Every kitchen needs a good set of knives. A knife is an essential tool for any chef, and often the most used. With so many different types on the market, it’s important to know what type of knife you need before buying one. The santoku knife is great for chopping vegetables or meat with precision and ease without damaging anything in your way, which makes it perfect for prepping ingredients in advance.
In this article, we will show you how to use a santoku and why you should incorporate it into your cooking routine. Plus, we’ll give you tips on the best Santoku knives to use (as well as other types of knives) for different types of recipes. Here's all you need to know.
What is a Santoku knife?
A santoku knife is one of the most common types of Japanese knives. They are suitable for almost any sort of food with their versatile blade. This knife comes with a rectangular-shaped handle and small indentations on the sides, which allows you to grip it firmly even if your hands are wet. The best thing about this type of knife is that it’s very easy to use, making it perfect for beginners as well those who only cook occasionally.
What can you do with a santoku?
As mentioned above, santokus are used mainly for cutting vegetables or meat because they allow smooth movement without tearing anything in their path. Also known as vegetable knives or meat cleavers in some countries, they are unique knives that make dicing and slicing a breeze. However, they can be used in other tasks such as mincing garlic or chopping herbs.
How do you use a santoku knife?
It is pretty easy to learn how to use a santoku knife if you have the right technique down pat. Firstly, you must hold your knife properly so you’ll get better results when doing your food prep. Position your upper arm at about 45 degrees to the working surface and keep your elbow slightly bent. Next, place your forefinger along the back of the blade (opposite side from where you are holding), then curl your remaining fingers around and grip them firmly against the handle with enough pressure to hold your knife in place should it slip.
When you are ready to start, make sure your ingredients are clean and start cutting them into the right size. Place them securely on a stable surface, like a cutting board or kitchen towel so they won’t move around throughout the entire process. Also, food that can be slippery like cucumbers or tomatoes might require something wet underneath to help keep them in place while you slice and dice away, which is why placing these types of foods on top of a damp kitchen towel works best.
Once everything is set up, you can grab your santoku by its handle with your dominant hand. Then lift it high above your ingredient before bringing it down as hard as possible for an even cut every time. You should also roll the knife forward a little as you are cutting to make sure it doesn’t get stuck in the food. This is because rotating knives maintain their sharpness for longer, and ensures that your santoku will cut through even the most difficult of ingredients with ease.
This process may take some getting used to if you’ve never used this type of knife before. However, after a few tries, you’ll quickly master it and wonder why you didn’t learn about santokus sooner.
What are other uses for a santoku?
Since santokus have thin blades, they also work well when doing delicate tasks like carving chicken or slicing fruit. Also, they can be used in place of other cutting tools such as a cleaver or chef’s knife for some tasks.
What is the best type of santoku?
There are several different types of santokus to choose from when shopping for one. The standard version comes with a blade that’s between 5-6 inches long. Premium models will have blades that measure 7-8 inches long, which makes them better at cutting large batches at once. However, both varieties are designed to cut through small and even big ingredients with precision without tearing chunks out of them.
When it comes to deciding what size santoku is best for you, the choice ultimately depends on your cooking style. Those who prefer to cook for a large gathering will benefit more from a larger knife, while those who only cook occasionally can get away with the standard-sized santoku. However, since these knives are so versatile and easy to use, you can try one out before making your decision.
What type of cutting board should I use?
No matter what type of santoku you choose, make sure you always have a high-quality cutting board ready to go. There’s nothing worse than using an old or cheap board that could cause damage to your knife or give you bad results when it comes time to chop veggies.
For the best results possible, look for boards made from bamboo because they line up well against all types of blades. Also, they have a nice scent that stays with them after continued use. However, these boards also tend to be on the pricier side, so you may want to start with something more affordable if this is your first time using one.
Wooden boards work well too and are available in all different shapes and sizes depending on what type of food you’ll be chopping. If you don’t want to spend much money, go for a plastic cutting board.
Tips on how to take care of your knives (including sharpening)
Once you’ve bought a santoku, there are a few simple steps you should take to ensure that it lasts for years of use.
After each time you use your knife, clean the blade and handle with warm soapy water. Also, make sure to dry it off with a towel before storing it to prevent rust from forming on the metal. Avoid putting your knife in the dishwasher because this can damage both the blade and handle over time.
If it looks like your santoku has dulled after repeated uses, don’t be afraid to pay a visit to a professional sharpener. They can help restore its edge so that it cuts through ingredients even better than when it was new. Plus they often have experts on hand who can teach you the best way to use your santoku for maximum results.
Even if you take great care of your knife, it will eventually begin to show signs of wear and tear. Keep an eye out for metal that begins to rust or spots where wood has chipped away.
If metal starts showing through when sharpening the blade, try using a wet stone instead because this type of material is ideal for reshaping blades. Just be careful not to get any water inside the handle because this could cause molding issues later down the road. If wood is missing around the edges, apply some glue or epoxy and wait until it dries before touching it again. However, if large chunks are gone, you may want to consider replacing the entire knife.
Other types of knives and their uses
Remember, there’s a whole world of different blades that are designed for specific tasks. If you’re not sure where to start, think about what kind of food is on your plate. By understanding how each blade works, you can more easily determine which one is best suited for the job at hand.
- Carving Knife: This long blade is ideal for large cuts of meat, particularly roasts like turkey, prime rib, and pork loin.
- Chef’s Knife: Commonly known as an all-purpose knife, this type is used for small or medium-sized ingredients including veggies, fruit, and even nuts.
- Utility Knife: The taffy knife is a smaller version of this tool and can be used for even more precision, ideal for peeling fruits .
- Paring Knife: This small blade is used for peeling and detailing fruit, mushrooms, and other veggies.
- Bread Knife: Perfect for slicing through soft ingredients including bread and cakes without mangling them. Although you could use it to cut hard foods like cheese or meats, its teeth are better suited to softer items.
- Cleaver Knife: Another large knife that’s great for cutting up big pieces of meat or poultry.
- Steak Knives: These long blades always make sure your next steak is cut perfectly.
- Boning Knife: It has a thin blade which makes it ideal for separating meat from the bone.
- Oyster Knife: Perfect for shucking oysters open without damaging them in the process.
Check out this article on the best German knives if you would like to learn more about other available knives in the marketplace.
Final thoughts on how to use a santoku knife
In conclusion, knowing when and how to use a Santoku knife is the first step in maximizing your results from it. By keeping it clean, sharp, and protected from rusting or chipping, you’ll have no trouble seeing why this is such a popular choice for chefs and will quickly become one of your favourite kitchen tools.