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.



Stone Shrimp Forks Set of 8
Stone Shrimp Forks Set of 8
$9.99
Time Remaining: 30m
Buy It Now for only: $13.79

Accusharp White Knife Sharpener Plastic Card Packaging 001 Acc001
Accusharp White Knife Sharpener Plastic Card Packaging 001 Acc001
$16.57
Time Remaining: 30m
Buy It Now for only: $16.57

reed and barton Tarpley Flatware Chest
reed and barton Tarpley Flatware Chest
$259.95
Time Remaining: 30m
Buy It Now for only: $259.95

LAGUIOLE Jean Dubost Steak Knife Set Ivory Pearl
LAGUIOLE Jean Dubost Steak Knife Set Ivory Pearl
$39.99
Time Remaining: 30m
Buy It Now for only: $39.99

Stainless Steel Chopsticks Set of 3 Pairs
Stainless Steel Chopsticks Set of 3 Pairs
$5.99
Time Remaining: 30m
Buy It Now for only: $10.00

Stainless steela small spoonbaby spoontea spoon seasoning spoon1pcs
Stainless steela small spoonbaby spoontea spoon seasoning spoon1pcs
$0.01
Time Remaining: 30m

SANTOKU KNIFE F 5 SETO Japanese Chef Knives Crafted in World Famous Seki
SANTOKU KNIFE F 5 SETO Japanese Chef Knives Crafted in World Famous Seki
$60.00
Time Remaining: 30m
Buy It Now for only: $60.00

Oneida WM A Rogers Stainless Sweet Briar Soup Spoon Rose Pattern
Oneida WM A Rogers Stainless Sweet Briar Soup Spoon Rose Pattern
$3.75
Time Remaining: 30m
Buy It Now for only: $3.75

Ekco Eterna Stainless Flatware SORORITY Serving Spoon
Ekco Eterna Stainless Flatware SORORITY Serving Spoon
$8.00
Time Remaining: 31m
Buy It Now for only: $8.00

Japanese MASAHIRO MV Honyaki Kitchen Utility Knife 90mm Molybdenum MBS 26 JAPAN
Japanese MASAHIRO MV Honyaki Kitchen Utility Knife 90mm Molybdenum MBS 26 JAPAN
$67.89
Time Remaining: 31m
Buy It Now for only: $67.89

3 JA Henckels Ever Edge Stainless Cutlery
3 JA Henckels Ever Edge Stainless Cutlery
$9.99
Time Remaining: 31m

C Hugo Pott 2736 STAINLESS Blunt Solid Knife 8202762
C Hugo Pott 2736 STAINLESS Blunt Solid Knife 8202762
$94.95
Time Remaining: 31m
Buy It Now for only: $94.95

Oneida Stainless Flatware SPRING BALLAD Salad Forks Textured
Oneida Stainless Flatware SPRING BALLAD Salad Forks Textured
$16.00
Time Remaining: 32m
Buy It Now for only: $16.00

MERCER CUTLERY M20907 Usuba Knife 7 In
MERCER CUTLERY M20907 Usuba Knife 7 In
$38.40
Time Remaining: 32m
Buy It Now for only: $38.40

EIGHT 8 Vintage CUTCO No1059 SERRATED BLADE Full Tang STEAK KNIVES + Wood Box
EIGHT 8 Vintage CUTCO No1059 SERRATED BLADE Full Tang STEAK KNIVES + Wood Box
$103.50 (6 Bids)
Time Remaining: 32m

Lot of FIVE 5 Vintage WEAR EVER brand STEAK KNIVES Same Maker as Cutco
Lot of FIVE 5 Vintage WEAR EVER brand STEAK KNIVES Same Maker as Cutco
$39.99 (1 Bid)
Time Remaining: 33m

Lot of FIVE 5 Vintage CUTCO brand No59 Full Tang STEAK KNIVES
Lot of FIVE 5 Vintage CUTCO brand No59 Full Tang STEAK KNIVES
$59.99 (1 Bid)
Time Remaining: 33m

Japanese MASAHIRO MV Honyaki Kitchen Utility Knife 120mm Molybdenum MBS 26 JAPAN
Japanese MASAHIRO MV Honyaki Kitchen Utility Knife 120mm Molybdenum MBS 26 JAPAN
$70.68
Time Remaining: 33m
Buy It Now for only: $70.68

Durable 7 Ceramic Knife Chef Cutlery Advanced for Kitchen Home Office Use Black
Durable 7 Ceramic Knife Chef Cutlery Advanced for Kitchen Home Office Use Black
$11.36
Time Remaining: 33m
Buy It Now for only: $11.36

Japanese Sushi Sashimi Kitchen Knife Shimomura Verdun Deba Stainless Steel 150mm
Japanese Sushi Sashimi Kitchen Knife Shimomura Verdun Deba Stainless Steel 150mm
$42.75
Time Remaining: 33m
Buy It Now for only: $42.75


KitchenIQ 50009 Edge Grip 2 Stage Knife Sharpener KitchenIQ 50009 Edge Grip 2 Stage Knife Sharpener
Sale Price: $3.85
 
Rubbermaid No-Slip Cutlery Tray, Large, Black Rubbermaid No-Slip Cutlery Tray, Large, Black
List Price: $13.00
Sale Price: $6.23
You save: $6.77 (52%)
 
AccuSharp 001 Knife Sharpener AccuSharp 001 Knife Sharpener
List Price: $13.99
Sale Price: $6.99
You save: $7.00 (50%)
 
Rubbermaid Antimicrobial Dish Drainer, Large, Black Rubbermaid Antimicrobial Dish Drainer, Large, Black
List Price: $14.49
Sale Price: $8.05
You save: $6.44 (44%)
 
Victorinox Swiss Army 8-Inch Fibrox Straight Edge Chef's Knife Victorinox Swiss Army 8-Inch Fibrox Straight Edge Chef's Knife
List Price: $46.60
Sale Price: $39.95
You save: $6.65 (14%)
 
Breville JE98XL Juice Fountain Plus 850-Watt Juice Extractor Breville JE98XL Juice Fountain Plus 850-Watt Juice Extractor
List Price: $230.00
Sale Price: $144.15
You save: $85.85 (37%)
 
Totally Bamboo 20-7930 3-Piece Cutting Board Set Totally Bamboo 20-7930 3-Piece Cutting Board Set
Sale Price: $9.99
 
160 Pieces Reflections Heavyweight Plastic Silverware - Forks, Spoons, Knives 160 Pieces Reflections Heavyweight Plastic Silverware - Forks, Spoons, Knives
Sale Price: $11.79
 
Pyrex Prepware 2-Cup Measuring Cup, Clear with Red Measurements Pyrex Prepware 2-Cup Measuring Cup, Clear with Red Measurements
List Price: $83.28
Sale Price: $5.99
You save: $77.29 (93%)
 
Brass and Walnut Pro Pumpkin Carving Tool Kit Brass and Walnut Pro Pumpkin Carving Tool Kit
List Price: $29.95
Sale Price: $20.82
You save: $9.13 (30%)
 


Santoku Chef

Thank You. We hope you found the

Santoku Chef

you were looking for.