Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Santoku


alamut
 Share

Recommended Posts

My mother-in-law (a fine cook in her own right) has offered to buy me a new knife of my choosing for an upcoming birthday. While she hasn’t put any price restrictions on the blade, I don’t intend to tax her generosity unduly (so there’s to be none of that masterfully folded steel from Nagano) I have a few traditional German style chef’s knives, and we’ve had some great times together (chopping veggies, de-boning poultry, splitting squash, and sectioning off the world’s largest crawfish). However, the thought of adding a new member to our knife family is very exciting.

Is the now very trendy Santoku (Japanese for “three great things”) a Rachel Ray driven, over hyped, waste of time and money, or is it a valuable addition to the collection? I have no intention of using it to quarter a chicken, or mince parsley (chef’s knife tasks), but I am intrigued by the downward facing tip, which seems nicely suited to more delicate vegetable work (lately it seems we are slicing up more leeks and cardoons that I would have ever thought possible).

If there are any Santoku advocates what brand do you use/recommend? Any Santoku haters (too strong a word?) what better knife do you recommend?

Alamut was the mountain fortress of Hassan i Sabbah and the later heads of the Assassins. Alamut represents more than just a physical place, more even than a symbolic home of the movement. Alamut was with you in what you did; Alamut was in your heart from the moment of your arrival and introduction to "Heaven" until the moment you died.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've found santoku's work really well for people with small hands - they are comfortable, light weight, and easy to work with. Having said that, I don't use one because they don't fit my hand, I prefer a heavy knife, and I like using one knife for the bulk of my prep work - a santoku with its rounded tip won't work for things like removing the silverskin from a piece of meat or filleting a fish.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I swear by my Wusthof Classic Sankotu, but as melkor notes, I've got very small hands. Whenever I have to choose between my Chef's knife and my Sankotu, the Sankotu wins hands down every time.

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've found santoku's work really well for people with small hands - they are comfortable, light weight, and easy to work with.  Having said that, I don't use one because they don't fit my hand, I prefer a heavy knife, and I like using one knife for the bulk of my prep work - a santoku with its rounded tip won't work for things like removing the silverskin from a piece of meat or filleting a fish.

Hhmmm.... I hadn't really thought about it that way. I do have small hands and I love my Santoku... it does feel like it fits in my hands better. Mine is a larger one, but I do like it better than my chef's knife.

"Many people believe the names of In 'n Out and Steak 'n Shake perfectly describe the contrast in bedroom techniques between the coast and the heartland." ~Roger Ebert

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have very big hands and love my Shun Santoku. It has completely replaced my Henckels 4-star 10 inch chef's knife as my everyday knife (which had replaced an 8 inch, which had replaced a 6 inch).

I like the maneuverability of the shorter blade and it is a very sharp knife (of course this will very based on how well it sharpened, etc.).

I only use the Chef's knife these days if I need to do lots of back and forth rocking (for lots of mincing, for example) or I need to cut something particularly big or long (like a watermelon).

Bill Russell

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've found santoku's work really well for people with small hands - they are comfortable, light weight, and easy to work with.  Having said that, I don't use one because they don't fit my hand, I prefer a heavy knife, and I like using one knife for the bulk of my prep work - a santoku with its rounded tip won't work for things like removing the silverskin from a piece of meat or filleting a fish.

Hhmmm.... I hadn't really thought about it that way. I do have small hands and I love my Santoku... it does feel like it fits in my hands better. Mine is a larger one, but I do like it better than my chef's knife.

I totally agree with this sentiment. I bought a Henckel Santoku for my wife and have used it a few times (mainly for medium-sized vegetables) and find it is too small for my hands. I felt the same with my 8" chef's knife. I now use a 10" and have a 12" available for certain items.

"If the divine creator has taken pains to give us delicious and exquisite things to eat, the least we can do is prepare them well and serve them with ceremony."

~ Fernand Point

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Santoku knives are "trendy"? Rachel Ray driven? AFAIK, Japanese chefs have been using santoku knives before Ray-Ray was even born.

I prefer a santoku, and yes, I have small hands. However, I think you should also pay attention to the steel and handle, not just the style of knife.

Baker of "impaired" cakes...
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just my personal preference, but I find myself using my santoku knife (an inexpensive one I brought back from Japan many years ago) more often than any other knife I have, and certainly more often than my two chef's knives.

I'd say go for it!

SuzySushi

"She sells shiso by the seashore."

My eGullet Foodblog: A Tropical Christmas in the Suburbs

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have neither large nor small hands... which I guess explains why I use my santoku and chef's knives about equally. If something needs to be sliced really thin, the santoku is my choice. But if there's "heavy" work to be done, such as chopping chocolate off a block, I'll definitely reach for my chef's knife.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Was I perhaps too snarky about Ms. Ray? Yes I am aware that in Japan these knives have been in use for a very long time. However, there an number of different styles and types of knife that have been in use for centuries in Japan and all around the world that are not currently promoted by TV cooks in the manner Santoku has been.

Ray-Ray has been losing chef cred in my eyes (how much was there originally?) ever since she did that "sexy" photo shoot in FHM (shudder).

But my questions are not about her, and I do agree with you sanrensho, in you placing an emphasis on the quality of the steel. I have seen that in the last several years some (but not all) of the Wustofh and Henckel knives have begun to be manufactured in China not Deutschland. (Achtung!) Not that everything that comes out of China in necessarily subpar, but I am now putting less stock in name brands and reading the back of the box much more closely.

Alamut was the mountain fortress of Hassan i Sabbah and the later heads of the Assassins. Alamut represents more than just a physical place, more even than a symbolic home of the movement. Alamut was with you in what you did; Alamut was in your heart from the moment of your arrival and introduction to "Heaven" until the moment you died.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Me=small hands=santoku. I do use my 10 inch chef's knife for large pieces of raw meat, cubing sweet potatoes, etc., otherwise I've had my santoku for a couple years now and it is my main workhorse even on shallots, I can get a lovely mince with no problem.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Was I perhaps too snarky about Ms. Ray?

I don't think it's possible to be "too snarky" about Ray-Ray.:biggrin:

Aside from large chopping jobs and deboning, I think you will like the santoku a lot for almost everything else. Since you already have some German knives, you might as well check out the Japanese steel.

Baker of "impaired" cakes...
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Santoku knives are "trendy"? Rachel Ray driven? AFAIK, Japanese chefs have been using santoku knives before Ray-Ray was even born.

I prefer a santoku, and yes, I have small hands. However, I think you should also pay attention to the steel and handle, not just the style of knife.

Agree 100%.

I'm of the group that hates Santoku's. There is nothing you can do with a Santoku that you can't do with a Gyuto (chef). A Santoku is limited to being only so long (longest being 6.5 inches) so right away you're forcing yourself to use two knives for large and small prep work. Another issue with a Santoku is that the profile is higher than a gyuto so any kind of rocking motion will cause you to lift the knife higher off the board to get above the food. This will then cause another problem in that the tip is low so it will get stuck in the board. So no rocking with this knife.

I have various lengths of gyuto's with the minimum being 240mm or about 9.5 inches with my most used being the 270mm or 12 inch knife. The fact that they are thin and light automatically makes them very easy to maneuver. And yes, I use my Gyuto 95% of the time from mincing garlic or shallots to slicing cauliflower to chopping and mincing herbs. You can rock or push cut with this knife. The only things I don't use my gyuto for is chopping bones, peeling fruit or slicing a sandwich (overkill).

As far as handles go, not all brands have the same sized handles. As far as blades go, VG10 is the best stainless on the market for the price right now. As far as brands to choose from, Shun and the Messermeister Meridian Elite are high quality main-stream brands. For more unique Japanese made knives, I highly recommend www.japanesechefsknife.com. Not only is the customer service the best anywhere, you can get your knife shipped for $7 and receive it in less than a week from Japan. This is what I would recommend as far as brands are concerned.

Good:

Tojiro DP

Better:

Tojiro Powder

Hiromoto AS

Best:

Misono UX10

Ryusen Blazen

Hattori HD

Unfortunately, very few stores carry the brands above so you won't be able to get a feel for the differences in handle size or even the difference beteween a Santoku and a Gyuto. A Shun Gyuto is not very representative of traditional Japanese Gyuto's in that the Shun has more belly and is similar to a German chef while a traditional Gyuto is closer to a French chef with less belly. I had a Shun Santoku and sold it on Ebay to buy my first Gyuto. No Santoku's in my block. DO NOT get the kullens as they are ineffective and not worth the extra cost.

Good luck with your choice whatever it may be. Hope this helped.

Cheers,

Bob

Edited to say thanks for the pic of RR. :biggrin: Got anymore? :cool:

Edited by Octaveman (log)

My Photography: Bob Worthington Photography

 

My music: Coronado Big Band
 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have small hands and love my classic Wusthof Santoku.

That being said, I think you should maybe go down to the knife shop and find your <i>perfect</i> knife. Don't worry about style. Just go down and handle every larger knife they have and learn what fits you and your needs perfectly.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I bought a really cheap ($15 in a kitchen outlet store) no-name Santoku just to see if I would like the feel of it. Sure enough, loved it! Now I have three really good Japanese Santoku's:

Hattori HD (a knife from heaven, slices thinner than anything else in the world!)

MAC Pro - everyday workhorse knife, stainless

Kikuichi carbon - another beauty but you might not want carbon steel

I still use my 10" chef's knife but not as often as the Santoku's. Be aware the Japanese steel is harder and a bit more delicate to take care of, but it's absolutely wonderful. If you get a Wusthoff or Henkel's Santoku, you won't get the incredible sharpness of Japanese knives.

Also I would stay away from the Rachel Ray official knife (made by Furi). It is very soft steel and you'll be sharpening it constantly, I suspect.

Octaveman recommended one good source for Japanese knives, I'll throw in www.epicureanedge.com as another good one based on my experience. (Great pictures on their web site, too!)

Let us know what you decide!

*****

"Did you see what Julia Child did to that chicken?" ... Howard Borden on "Bob Newhart"

*****

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Update: Reading Octaveman's post, and browsing the Japanesechefsknife.com website, I've identified what I've had all these years as a Misono molybdenum santoku (it was a little difficult for me to transliterate the Japanese "sutenresu moribuden" -- stainless... say what? -- into English!). It works for me.

SuzySushi

"She sells shiso by the seashore."

My eGullet Foodblog: A Tropical Christmas in the Suburbs

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have a cheap one (soft... I have to sharpen it almost everytime I use it) that came with my Kitchen Aid knife block wedding gift, but I still use it more than any of the other knifes in my kitchen. I don't think my hands are particularly small, but I do find it less cumbersom than my chef's knives. I still use the chef's knives for very hard root veg's and other things as they come along, but my Santoku-style really is my "go to" knife.

BTW... I have added a better model to my Christmas wish list. My husband has been instructed. :raz:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Depends on how you cut vegetables

A santoku is somewhat of a hybrid between a classic chef's knife and a chinese cleaver.

So if you do a lot of "chopping" instead of push slicing or rocking, it may be a better choice than the standard chefs knife. It's also a lot more maneuverable than the Chinese Cleaver, though it's not as versatile.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have had my Wusthoff santuko knife for over 10 years and use it often. Mostly for chopping, some slicing, whatever. And I have big hands, for what that is worth. I feel use of this knife is a personal choice thing. For the price, I can't afford the expensive Japanese versions, so I carry on with my trusty Wusthoff.

It is good to be a BBQ Judge.  And now it is even gooder to be a Steak Cookoff Association Judge.  Life just got even better.  Woo Hoo!!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

For the price, I can't afford the expensive Japanese versions, so I carry on with my trusty Wusthoff.

Many people can't afford the expensive versions either. That's why they have cheaper versions. At JCK.com, check out Tojiro DP for $40 (touted as the best bang for the buck among users) and also to be considered is Tojiro Powdered Steel. At EE.com check out THESE bitchin knives or THESE knives using blue steel.

There are so many affordable Japanese blades that there's no reason not to get one. They are harder, thinner, sharper and stay sharp longer. I used to have all Henckles and replaced them with all Japanese blades...I now have 13 of various shapes. There is so much out there to choose from and since this is a gift, venture out of your comfort zone and get something new and different from what you're used to. Whether you get a Santoku or Gyuto, go for a Japanese blade.

Bob

My Photography: Bob Worthington Photography

 

My music: Coronado Big Band
 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have Global's "Asian Chef's Knife", which is neither truly santoku or chef's knife. my wife and i adore it. it's super sharp and easy to hone. it's also really light, which we love, but that's a preference. i know a lot of people hate global because they're so light. my wife has really small hands and i have relatively big ones and we both feel really comfortable with it.

the shape really lends itself to more chopping and slicing (like a chef's knife), but i wouldn't be afraid to put it up against almost anything except thick bone (but a regular chef's knife wouldn't do that either). it replaced a henkels 4-star that was tough to keep sharp and heavy. we still use it, but it's been relegated to back-up duty.

although you probably can't go wrong with any of the knives on the websites people have posted, you're probably best off trying them out (although all that sharp, shiny metal is tempting me, too).

just an anecdote: a friend had some super awesome european chef's knife that cost more than twice my global. it was a fine piece of craftmanship, but i just felt really clumsy with it. just wasn't my thing. moral: try it out first, if you can!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Damn you peer pressure! I was forced to go to www.japanesechefsknife.com and purchase a Hattori HD-9 Gyuto. It will be here next week  :smile:

Now I can kiss my LamsonSharps goodbye!

WOO HOO!!! Awesome knife...I have the 270mm too. He'll ship it today so you might even get it by the weekend depending on where you are. I once placed an order on a Tuesday and got the knife Friday. Koki at JCK is great to work with. His English is very good and makes every attempt to make the customer happy and even handles special requests. If there's a knife you want that's not on his website, he'll look into getting it for you. He's done that many times for people I know. It's a small family business that is the best I've dealt with. Let us know what you think when you get it and by all means post a pic. :biggrin:

My Photography: Bob Worthington Photography

 

My music: Coronado Big Band
 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't know if smaller hands are it or not, but I tried a friend's santoku & totally fell in love. The shape of this knife just feels intuitively right to me. I had to go out & buy one (henckels) for myself. Meanwhile I have two beautiful Sabatier Lion french cook's knives (long & narrow) which I hardly ever use because they just don't feel right in my hand... now I want more santokus but my husband says we have enough knives already :sad:

What's ironic is my friend almost never uses his santoku because it doesn't feel right for him. (big hands?)

Do you suffer from Acute Culinary Syndrome? Maybe it's time to get help...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...