Tool Spotlight: Santoku Knives

The most essential tool for any chef is undoubtedly the knife. A good knife allows chefs to work quickly, maintain the integrity of the ingredients and polish their presentation. Knife skills are some of the first lessons taught in culinary school because they play a central role in the execution of nearly every dish. You will constantly improve your knife skills while learning to cook, and having a quality knife will make the process much easier.

Santoku knives are best recognized for their flat edge and balanced design. The Japanese term “santoku” roughly translates to “three virtues” in English. The ability of the knife to chop, slice and mince its way through various ingredients makes it a perfect choice for a go-to kitchen knife.

The “sheepsfoot” tip on Santoku knives prohibits the rocking motion that you get with tips that are rounded on blade edge. This style is characterized by the curve from the dull backside of the knife to the tip that meets the blade. The balanced design offers better control while cutting, and the double-beveled edge lends precision to knife skills. Some variations incorporate scalloped sides, also known as a Granton edge, which improves separation and lengthens the lifespan of the blade’s sharpness. These versatile knives have become very popular with home cooks and professional chefs alike.

A fairly young design, Santoku knives were first made in the 1920s to meet the demand for a knife that would cut through meats as well as vegetables. Santoku knives are multipurpose tools and are designed to cut cleanly through meats, produce and fish.

Some chefs pay a high price for sets of quality knives. Such an investment is wise, but not necessary. You can find quality Santoku knives for a reasonable price. If many of your knives are dull, consider replacing them with a multipurpose knife like a Santoku. Quality knives are kitchen staples that will last decades with proper care, even with everyday use.

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