Santoku Chef

Santoku Chef

How to Chose the Right Knife for Your Kitchen

The right kitchen knife for the job will shorten your prep time, a lot. It will allow you to work faster and smarter. It will also help you prepare higher quality ingredients and be a joy to use. So what makes a good knife? The key factors include: size, shape, quality and sharpness. 

Size

Use a knife that is too small and you will work harder than you need to. Use a knife that is too big and you lose precision and control, and you'll work harder than you need to. Generally, you will find that a larger knife is better for chopping, dicing, mincing, and slicing. A smaller knife will be better suited to cutting, peeling and decorating small fruits. A medium sized knife if useful for slicing medium sized fruits and cuts of meat.

A good basic knife set will contain a chef's knife, also called a cook's knife. While pros often recommend longer knives, 8 inches is a good home size. 7 inches might be all that a shorter cook will want. Some cooks are using the Japanese style santoku knife as a substitute for the European style chef's knife. A chef's knife is the most used blade in a professional kitchen and can be used for most food prep. A knife this large is often intimidating to the home cook but a bit of practice will demonstrate that it makes the job of chopping go much faster. 

Where a chef's knife isn't appropriate is for fine work like peeling. That's where a paring knife comes in. Paring knives come in a range of sizes from 2-5 inches but the most common size is 3-3 1/2 inches. Many home cooks use paring knives to chop with, but that's not what they are designed for. A paring knife is best used when the item being cut is held in the hand. If a cutting board is used then a larger and heavier knife will do the job with less effort.

A bread knife should be long enough to cut a loaf. For breads baked in pans or long, narrow loaves, 8 inches is adequate. For round loaves, a 9 inch or longer knife will be better.

Middle sized knives from 5-6 inches in length are good for general work and are often the home cook's tool of choice. Generally these knives are good for slicing or boning. A larger chef's knife will make much faster work of chopping. Knives in the middle size range are often called utility or sandwich knives, though some cooks prefer the thicker blade of a short chef's or santoku knife.

A good working minimum set of knives will include a chef's knife, a paring knife, a mid-sized utility knife or two and a bread knife. When preparing poultry, it's nice to have a knife dedicated to that task that won't contaminate the rest of the meal. The vast majority of prep work can be easily accomplished with these knives and a set of poultry shears. It's generally best to start with a higher quality small set of knives and add specialty knives as needed than to buy a huge set and never use some of the knives. Some cooks prefer the nice look of a matching set of knives. Some prefer to buy the knife the they like best for each particular task.

If you work with whole chickens or poultry then a 5-6 inch boning knife is a good addition. A 6-7 inch fillet knife will make short work of de-boning or filleting fish. A 2-2 1/2 inch stiff paring knife helps with garnishes. While a good chef's knife will do to carve meat or poultry, a carving knife that isn't used for food prep will be sharp and ready for carving at the table. 8-9 inches is a good general purpose size. A 10 inch knife is better for prime rib and can double as a cake slicer, cutting the entire width of the cake in one motion.

Shape

Knives that have curved blades are the most versatile. Chopping benefits from a wider blade, at least at the end closest to the handle, or heel. Straight edged knives work well for slicing things like bread and roast beef. The traditional turkey carving knife will be fairly straight. 

The overall shape of a knife includes both blade and handle shapes. The blade shape will influence cutting or chopping speed. The shape of the handle will influence comfort and balance. The latter are very subjective. What feels good for one cook will be misery for another. Before buying it's always best to actually hold a knife take it through the appropriate chopping and cutting motions.. For some cooks perfect balance is vital. Others don't care as long as the knife holds an edge.

Quality

Better quality knives hold their edge longer and are generally more durable. It used to be that only forged blades held high quality but that's no longer the case. While low quality knives are all stamped, now days many quality knives are cut or stamped from sheet steel. Forschner knives rated by Cooks Illustrated as a best buy and a popular in many quality restaurants offer the same edge holding ability as the much more expensive German brands at less than a quarter the cost, and bust the myth of only forged blades being sharp and durable. Some very expensive Japanese knives are not forged and may be the best knives available.

Quality Japanese knives typically offer a harder steel than comparably priced German ones. The trade off is that while the edge can stay sharper longer, the knife is more difficult to sharpen when it does become dull. Professional chefs fall on both sides of the Japanese vs. German steel question. 

Regardless of what knife you end up choosing, what top brands offer that less expensive ones don't is a beautiful tool. A less expensive knife may be 95% or more as usable as a a high priced one. It won't be as finely balanced. It won't offer that ineffable sense of quality. Nor will it impress your friends. Aesthetics vs. value is fortunately a choice that won't give you a bad knife.

Sharpness

A sharp, quality knife is a joy to use. However, the sharper an edge is the more delicate it is. Sharpness comes from the blade being extremely thin. If you buy an extremely sharp expensive knife and want its edge to last you will need to take care of it. At the very least that means not cleaning it in the dishwasher, cutting on a hard surface or storing the knife unprotected in a drawer. It also means learning to touch up the knife on a steel or ceramic hone. 

Any quality knife should come from the factory with a sharp enough edge, though sharp is a relative term. A $200+ Japanese knife may come with a scary sharp edge, while $40 German one will have a "merely" working sharp one. The tradeoff is one of durability as well as in ease of cutting. An extremely sharp knife edge is fragile and requires both respect and care. A well maintained knife will hold a working edge for quite a while, though when it finally gets too dull you might want to consider using a professional knife sharpening service to restore the edge.

 

About the Author

Recovering psychotherapist, former restaurant owner and Mac geek, Michael lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.
His site is Mystic Cowboy


Hi,where is a reputable place to get my misono chefs knife and santoku sharpened ?

Looking for a place to send my Japanse santoku etc to be sharpened using waterstones.Any suggestions?

Without knowing where you're from, I'm gonna say Osaka, Japan. You should really learn to do it yourself. Every good cook takes pride in sharpening their knives.



Threshold Textured Birch 20 Piece Flatware Set
Threshold Textured Birch 20 Piece Flatware Set
$31.49
Time Remaining: 30m
Buy It Now for only: $31.49

Genichi Shimada 6pc Japanese Cutlery Knife Set No Box
Genichi Shimada 6pc Japanese Cutlery Knife Set No Box
$6.99
Time Remaining: 30m
Buy It Now for only: $6.99

Dansk MERIDIAN YOUR CHOICE Glossy Stainless China IMMACULATE CONDITION
Dansk MERIDIAN YOUR CHOICE Glossy Stainless China IMMACULATE CONDITION
$5.98
Time Remaining: 30m
Buy It Now for only: $5.98

Elica Home Trends Cake or Pie serving plate and server tool
Elica Home Trends Cake or Pie serving plate and server tool
$4.00
Time Remaining: 30m

SUNKIST PATTERN 1910 BY WM ROGERS  SON INTERNATIONAL SILVER 1 Fruit Spoon
SUNKIST PATTERN 1910 BY WM ROGERS SON INTERNATIONAL SILVER 1 Fruit Spoon
$8.99
Time Remaining: 30m

VICTORINOX GALVESTON STYLE OYSTER KNIFE with RED SUPER GRIP HANDLE VN44695
VICTORINOX GALVESTON STYLE OYSTER KNIFE with RED SUPER GRIP HANDLE VN44695
$15.95
Time Remaining: 30m
Buy It Now for only: $15.95

OUT OF THE WOODS OF OREGON MINI BLOCK +SPREADER SET  NEW
OUT OF THE WOODS OF OREGON MINI BLOCK +SPREADER SET NEW
$12.99
Time Remaining: 31m
Buy It Now for only: $12.99

STANLEY ROBERTS GOLD STAINLESS SRB 43 JAPAN FLOWERS
STANLEY ROBERTS GOLD STAINLESS SRB 43 JAPAN FLOWERS
$120.00
Time Remaining: 31m

Japanese Masazumi High Carbon Steel Chinese Chefs Knife 220mm
Japanese Masazumi High Carbon Steel Chinese Chefs Knife 220mm
$105.99
Time Remaining: 32m
Buy It Now for only: $105.99

Japanese Masazumi High Carbon Steel Hankotsu Borning Knife 150mm
Japanese Masazumi High Carbon Steel Hankotsu Borning Knife 150mm
$62.99
Time Remaining: 32m
Buy It Now for only: $62.99

Rogers Co Dorchester Stanley Roberts Stainless DINNER FORK 7 1 2
Rogers Co Dorchester Stanley Roberts Stainless DINNER FORK 7 1 2
$4.99
Time Remaining: 33m
Buy It Now for only: $4.99

Lot Of 2 Oneida Sant Andrea Scarlatti Stainless 18 10 TEASPOONS Sold As Is
Lot Of 2 Oneida Sant Andrea Scarlatti Stainless 18 10 TEASPOONS Sold As Is
$4.99
Time Remaining: 33m
Buy It Now for only: $4.99

Oneida Capistrano Stainless Burnished Ros Flatware BUTTER KNIFE TEASPOON
Oneida Capistrano Stainless Burnished Ros Flatware BUTTER KNIFE TEASPOON
$14.99
Time Remaining: 33m
Buy It Now for only: $14.99

Wallace BEAD Stainless 18 10 Pierced Serving Table SPOON 8 3 4 length
Wallace BEAD Stainless 18 10 Pierced Serving Table SPOON 8 3 4 length
$14.99
Time Remaining: 33m
Buy It Now for only: $14.99

Lot Of 2 Oneida Sant Andrea Scarlatti Stainless 18 10 TEASPOONS 6 3 8 length
Lot Of 2 Oneida Sant Andrea Scarlatti Stainless 18 10 TEASPOONS 6 3 8 length
$9.99
Time Remaining: 33m
Buy It Now for only: $9.99

Shun VB0701 6 Inch Sora Utility Knife Free Shipping
Shun VB0701 6 Inch Sora Utility Knife Free Shipping
$42.00
Time Remaining: 33m
Buy It Now for only: $42.00

Shun VB0741 6 Inch Sora Ultimate Utility Knife Free Shipping
Shun VB0741 6 Inch Sora Ultimate Utility Knife Free Shipping
$56.00
Time Remaining: 33m
Buy It Now for only: $56.00

New Cutco 3738 Hardy Slicer Knife Santoku Style Factory Sealed
New Cutco 3738 Hardy Slicer Knife Santoku Style Factory Sealed
$121.88
Time Remaining: 34m
Buy It Now for only: $121.88

New Storm Ran Slicing knife 180mm 33 L Damascus steel 36107 F S Japan Best Price
New Storm Ran Slicing knife 180mm 33 L Damascus steel 36107 F S Japan Best Price
$210.89
Time Remaining: 35m
Buy It Now for only: $210.89

4 Oneida Community Stainless Flatware SPRING ROSE TEASPOONS NEW
4 Oneida Community Stainless Flatware SPRING ROSE TEASPOONS NEW
$49.99
Time Remaining: 36m
Buy It Now for only: $49.99


KitchenIQ 50009 Edge Grip 2 Stage Knife Sharpener KitchenIQ 50009 Edge Grip 2 Stage Knife Sharpener
Sale Price: $1.49
 
Ginsu 04817 International Traditions 14-Piece Knife Set with Block, Natural Ginsu 04817 International Traditions 14-Piece Knife Set with Block, Natural
List Price: $49.99
Sale Price: $40.99
You save: $9.00 (18%)
 
Lipper International 826 Set of 6 Bamboo Kitchen Tools, in Mesh Bag Lipper International 826 Set of 6 Bamboo Kitchen Tools, in Mesh Bag
Sale Price: $6.19
 
CDN ProAccurate Quick-Read Thermometer CDN ProAccurate Quick-Read Thermometer
List Price: $19.99
Sale Price: $17.95
You save: $2.04 (10%)
 
Victorinox Fibrox 8-Inch Chef's Knife 40520, 47520, 45520, 5.2063.20 Victorinox Fibrox 8-Inch Chef's Knife 40520, 47520, 45520, 5.2063.20
List Price: $39.95
Sale Price: $29.95
You save: $10.00 (25%)
 
Totally Bamboo 20-7930 3-Piece Cutting Board Set Totally Bamboo 20-7930 3-Piece Cutting Board Set
Sale Price: $14.74
 
Swissmar Borner V-1001 V-Slicer Plus Mandoline Swissmar Borner V-1001 V-Slicer Plus Mandoline
List Price: $49.99
Sale Price: $34.39
You save: $15.60 (31%)
 
Chicago Cutlery 1119644 Fusion Forged 18-Piece Knife Block Set, Stainless Steel Chicago Cutlery 1119644 Fusion Forged 18-Piece Knife Block Set, Stainless Steel
List Price: $169.99
Sale Price: $99.97
You save: $70.02 (41%)
 
AccuSharp 001 Knife Sharpener AccuSharp 001 Knife Sharpener
List Price: $13.99
Sale Price: $6.99
You save: $7.00 (50%)
 
Victorinox Swiss Classic 8 Victorinox Swiss Classic 8" Chef's Knife
List Price: $50.00
Sale Price: $24.99
You save: $25.01 (50%)
 


Santoku Chef

Thank You. We hope you found the

Santoku Chef

you were looking for.