Written by adam on Apr 23, 2007
"Santoku." Funny Name. Serious Slicing.
You've probably seen these knives on cooking shows and in stores yet had no idea what they were all about. I'll be the first to admit that I resisted owning one for a long time. Though seeing Giada de Laurentiis wield a Santoku was enough to set me straight. No longer was my Henckels going to satisfy my craving for serious slicing and dicing.
A Santoku knife is a general purpose chef's knife which has origins in Japan. "Santoku" literally means"three good things," referring to slicing, dicing, and mincing. The blades are usually between 6 and 8 inches long, with the tip curving downwards at a 60 degree angle as opposed to the more triangular shaped chef's knifes. Often, the blade itself will be slightly curved to allow the rocking motion that is handy when doing quick chopping.
One of the best features of Santoku knives is how they can slice moist foods without them sticking to the blade. You'll see these tiny little recesses in the side of the blade that allow air to penetrate, thus reducing that moist static that we hate. I like to call them "blood grooves" and pretend I'm Rambo.
More modern versions of Santoku are coming equipped with a curvacious ergonomic handle like this one that I received for my birthday. The feel and the grip of the Santoku is different that most any knife you'll use. It feels light and care free, as opposed to the hardened, heavy chef's knives from Henckel's.
What to look for when buying a Santoku
When it is time for you to purchase your very first Santoku, you need to look for high quality forged steel blades. Brands like Wusthof and Henckels are German forged steel. Quality means price in the blade game, and you get what you pay for. The good quality Santoku knives are not going to be cheap, and I don't suggest that you go for anything under $25.00. Honestly, you want this purchase to last, and I think you should go for something to be proud of.
If you are a beginner home chef, you might want to hold off on purchasing a Santoku until you hone your skills as a slicer and dicer (no pun intended). But the intermediate to experienced chopper might want to consider adding to your repertoire of blades. I believe that every blade has a purpose in the kitchen. But I also believe that some blades are more suited to some people than others.
If the question is "do you really need a Santoku Knife," then my definitive answer would be no. I think it is a luxury blade, fit for the chef who has almost everything. Five years ago, I thought the same thing about portable mp3 players. That said, I never leave home without my iPod today.
Here are a few listings of some recommended Santoku Knives. Normally, I wouldn't recommend a knife with a celebrity endorsement, but the Furi Rachael Ray model looks cool and it is a good quality brand. I also like the fact that it is made of a single piece of steel. Just be careful your hand doesn't slip.
Henckels 7-inch Santoku ($43.25)
Furi Rachael Ray Santoku ($69.99)
Wusthof 7-inch Santoku ($89.95)
Responses to ""Santoku." Funny Name. Serious Slicing." ...
Greetings, Adam --
Füritechnics USA Inc. was thrilled to be included among the chosen knives for your recent article, "'Santoku'. Funny Name. Serious Slicing" on the April 23 edition of Men in Aprons. We appreciated your consideration and your recommendation of the Füri Pro Rachael Ray Coppertail East/West Knife.
Mark Henry, CEO and Chief Engineer of Füritechnics USA Inc., designed the East/West knives in the early ‘90s in close collaboration with working chefs, producing a product that specifically addressed their needs for a durable, hygienic knife with a handle that reduces hand fatigue, which is common among frequent knife users.
Like all Füri knives, the Rachael Ray East/West Coppertail has a patented reverse-wedge handle that reduces hand slip toward the handle so effectively that less “squeeze” is required to drive the knife (which reduces fatigue). Through his mechanical engineering research, Mark Henry discovered that a handle wedge that thickens toward the blade will resist slip in that direction far more effectively than the traditional handle shape of Western and Eastern knives which taper down thinner toward the blade provoking hand slippage (no matter what handle material is used) which encourages more fatigue-inducing squeezing.
It is a common misconception that all shiny, stainless steel handles are slippery, and most are if their shape tapers thinner toward the blade. For future tests, Mr. Henry recommends scrutinizing the performance of any knife handle for fatigue-reduction by gripping it and pushing forward with oily (or wet) hands instead of lightly rotating the hand on the handle. This scientific approach is an effective way to verify whether or not a knife handle is slippery.
With almost 20 years of expertise in the knife industry, Mark Henry has a thorough understanding for the science behind knife technology and would be more than happy to share his knowledge for any future knife or knife sharpening articles.
Thank you again for including us in your article and informing your readers about Furi.
Patrice A. Savery
Public Relations Manager
Furitechnics USA Inc.
Füritechnics USA Inc.
February 6, 2007
of lightly rotating the hand on the handle. This scientific approach is a more effective way to verify whether or not a knife handle is slippery.
Mark Henry is attending the upcoming IHA show in Chicago next month and if you are there, we invite you to stop by the Füri booth (#S408). With almost 20 years of expertise in the knife industry, Mark has a thorough understanding for the science behind knife technology and would be more than happy to share his knowledge with Cook’s Illustrated for any future knife or knife sharpening articles.
Thank you again for including us in your publication and informing your readers about Füri.
Patrice A. Savery
Public Relations Manager