The Best Santoku Knife, According to Chefs
We talked to chefs around the U.S. to find out what they look for in a santoku knife—and their favorite uses for the versatile blade.
In Japanese, santoku means "three virtues," and this knife, a favorite of chefs and avid home cooks, is a triple-threat—suited for chopping, dicing and mincing. It's also easy to hold—because the santoku knife features a slight curve that runs from the spin to the edge, which allows for smooth movement. "The [santoku] knife has dimples, or cullens, on each side to prevent food from sticking to the blade," says Chef Karl Guggenmos, a senior culinary advisor to startup Healthy Meals Supreme. "This allows for easy, quick cutting without having to frequently remove food from the blade."
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We talked to chefs around the U.S. to find out what they look for in a santoku knife—these are their favorite uses for the multi-use blade.
Chef Greg Proechel of Ferris in New York City says he likes to use santoku for slicing, chopping and “definitely mincing,” especially when it comes to vegetables. "Its flat blade rests nicely against the cutting board and lets you have constant contact with the cutting board, which is great when mincing and will take lest time," he says. "Also, most santokus have slight depressions in the blade that allow for air to get between the item your cutting and the blade, which allows for smooth slicing. And [when slicing] nice, juicy vegetables, it helps the item to not stick to the knife, which is also very helpful."
Chopping and Dicing
In Norfolk, Virginia, Executive Chef Fabio Capparelli (Saltine and Varia) says that a santoku knife can be used as an all-purpose knife, much like a chef’s knife, for slicing meat and vegetables, as well as fine chopping and dicing. "I practice my knife skills with this knife, and then use a chef knife or whatever knife I need to refine further skills,” he says. “I even butcher with a [santoku] knife, if need be,” but he’s quick to point out he does not try to “hack away at bones.”
How to Choose the Right Santoku Knife:
When it comes to selecting a santoku knife, which Executive Chef Kyle St. John of Harvest at The Ranch at Laguna Beach says is “a great knife to have in any home cook’s lineup,” he suggests holding the knife to get a feel for its weight, both in the handle and through the blade. He considers how the handle feels in his hand, if it grips well, and if it will still feel comfortable after hours of slicing and dicing. "You want the knife to feel comfortable, almost like an extension of your arm," he says.
Chefs' Santoku Knife Picks:
Which santoku knife does Chef Kyle suggest? “I have a Shun Premier 7” that was gifted to me, and I love it so much that I use it for my home kitchen,” he says. He added that the Classic 7” Hollow-Ground Santoku and the 7” Global Santoku “are both great knives for the price.”
Shun Premier 7-inch Knife, $175 at amazon.com
Shun Classic 7” Hollow-Ground Santoku, $150 at amazon.com
Global 7 inch Santoku Hollow Ground Knife, $85 at amazon.com
At Acadia in Chicago, Chef Ryan McCaskey says, “I love and use the Masanobu Santoku knife. Masanobu knives are made out of cobalt stain resistant steel blade and a pressed wood handle that provides exceptionally balanced weight.
“It’s really comfortable in my hand, which gives me great precision and control,” he continues. “The cobalt blade is one of the highest quality steels used in knife production, and has an excellent edge retention, which I like because having to sharpen your knives constantly can be a hassle. It’s a great all-purpose knife.”
Masahiro Santoku Knife, 7 inch, $125 at amazon.com