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What is a Santoku Knife?

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What is a Santoku Knife?

Santoku Knife

Photo: © Mifflin
Question: What is a Santoku Knife?
What is a Santoku knife and what makes it different from other kitchen knives? When do you use a Santoku knife?
Answer: The word Santoku has Japanese historical significance meaning 'three virtues'. The Santoku knife wears its name quite proudly, with its marvelous chopping, cutting, dicing and mincing abilities. This style of knife has become very popular with today's homemakers. It's not unusual to find one or two in a kitchen and it has become the go-to knife for many uses.

Typically, they range in sizes from 5" to 7" in blade lengths, but smaller ones are available. Sporting a unique styling somewhat like a narrow-bladed cleaver, the Santoku knife is designed for a comfortable, well-balanced grip, while allowing for full blade use.

Santoku knives are best known for their sharp edges, either beveled or hollow ground, which enhances their cutting performance. Another feature of the Santoku knife is the 'Granton edge' release pattern (dimples) on the blade, that not only adds style, but helps to release thin slices and sticky food after slicing. That food release ability makes this kind of knife ideal for a wide range of cutting tasks.

Knife prices are influenced by the construction details, quality of the steel and the handle, whether it has a full or partial tang, and how the knife is assembled.

Santoku knives are also available as a ceramic knife, which is a different type of knife construction. Although there are many higher priced models, there are many good affordable Santoku knives readily available.

The model shown here is a Cuisine de France 7" Santoku Knife and was purchased for under $15. It is very sharp, well constructed and attached to the handle with stainless steel rivets. It has a bolster, full tang handle and beveled edge.

If stored properly and used as intended, a Santoku knife should retain its sharpness well. However, if required, a sharpening steel can be used to touch up the edges. Keep in mind that occasionally, knives should be professionally sharpened to restore their correct bevel. An electric knife sharpener can also be used, as long as it is designed for use with Asian and Santoku knives.

As with other cutlery knives, dishwasher use is not recommended. A Santoku knife should be hand-washed and completely dried before storing.

If you have small hands or find a cleaver a little overwhelming, a Santoku knife is a good alternative, providing comfortable control and excellent cutting performance. These knives can be purchased as singles or often are included in knife sets.


Safe knife storage is extremely important and there are various ways to store knives. One popular method is a knife sheath for each knife, but unfortunately, not all knives sold come with an optional or included sheath. Other storage options include a knife block, which is probably the handiest and quickest when it comes to retrieval, or a wall-mounted magnetic hanger if you have space for one. Storing knives in a drawer may seem like a good solution, but this can create a hazard when retrieving a particular knife. I would highly recommend a knife block - it's the safest alternative for storing knives.
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Read More About Knives & Kitchen Cutlery:

Santoku Knives - Why so Popular?
Ceramic vs Steel Kitchen Knives
Chef's Choice AngleSelect Knife Sharpener Review
What's a Knife Bevel?
What's a Knife Granton Edge?
How to Use a Knife Steel - Video

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