For a beginner cook, the point here might seem a little confusing and tricky. For now, you might not be able to figure out the differences, and the comparison may sound a little irrelevant. But, hold on. It is not. Both Santoku Knife and chef knife differ in their sizes, blade shape, edge-grind, weight, design, and the list never end. To someone who is not a professional may find it to be similar.
But trust us, it is not. Both these knives have their functions and features and are used for different purposes. Though both these knives can be used as a general-purpose knife in the kitchen, it is essential to know the functions they perform best if your passion is cooking.
How many times has it happened that you saw a particular cooking video in which the vegetable slices’ sizes and texture were of a particular standard? Still, you failed to imitate the same in your kitchen? A lot of times, we guess.
If you are not a complete newbie in the kitchen, the chances are that it is not because of your slicing and dicing skills, but the knife you have chosen was wrong. Factors like blade shape and design matter a lot in producing the right kind of slice, dice, or cut.
We are here to guide you in buying the best all-purpose knife for your kitchen. Before diving into the details, let us see the overall features of both Santoku and Chef knife briefly:
Santoku Knife Features:
- It was first developed in Japan
- The blade here is slimmer and leaner than a chef’s knife, which results in more delicate pieces after slicing
- The bevel here can be both one-sided as well as two-sided
- Usually, the tiny strand of metal that you see in between the blade and handle of a knife, called the bolster, is missing here.
- The weight of a Santoku Knife is more balanced along the entire length than a chef’s knife
- Due to the above reason, this knife becomes much more comfortable to hold than a chef’s knife since this feels lighter.
- Some knives have more scalloped edges that can create an air pocket between the blade and the food that is being cut, so the slices can easily fall off rather than sticking to the knife.
- This is known as a Granton-edge knife. The Santoku Knife has this Granton edge that makes it easier to use.
- Some knives have a blade with a sheepsfoot shape, which means it has a straight edge and a spine that comes down to meet at the same point.
- It is so designed that while slicing, the chances of accidental piercing with the point are reduced. This knife has this kind of blade for safety.
- It, s size might vary from 5″ to 7.9.”
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Chef’s Knife Features:
- It has its origin in Germany or France.
- It has a broader blade, and the tip here is not as sharp as Santoku Knife.
- This knife’s spine is more sturdy and broader, which adds to its weight and makes it a little heavier to hold.
- The blade here comes in serrated varieties, i.e., dentate or sawtooth-shaped, making the cutting process faster, but a Santoku Knife has a straight edge, making the cut cleaner and refined.
- Here the bolster is present
- Here the Granton edge may be present or may not be present, depends on what you choose or is available.
- Here the bevel is mostly two-sided
- The size might vary from 6″ to 12″.
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We understand that you might not be obsessed with the sizes and shapes of the slices of vegetables you cut in the kitchen, but sometimes maybe on special days when you are preparing a meal for your entire family or when guests are coming home. You want to serve the best possible homemade good-looking food on the platter; you might want a little perfection, no?
But we also get that sometimes, it might not be in your budget to buy both these kinds of knives for different purposes, or might be you altogether want to keep it fuss-free and not confuse yourself with so many varieties of knives in the kitchen.
You are probably more into a single kind of knife that you can comfortably use for most purposes, be it slicing, dicing, chopping, or whatsoever. Then which is the best all-purpose knife you could use? Santoku Knife or the chef knife?
Now that we are almost well aware of the features and the general differences, let us look into more details how a santoku knife and a chef knife is different and which one should you prefer more as an all-purpose knife:
Origin: The Santoku knife is a Japanese-style inspired knife. It has a relatively sleek design and is lightweight. The chef’s knife whereas has a western origin. It is long, more massive, and more potent as compared to Santoku.
Blade weight or thickness: Now, this has got to do a lot with the origin. As mentioned earlier, a Chef’s knife has a western origin, and it is a more common thing than western knives are usually thicker and feels bulky. It has a bolster (a piece of metal), unlike Santoku Knife, which adds to its weight.
Even though it makes the knife more powerful, beautiful chopping pieces with this knife may almost be impossible. Whereas, in Santoku’s case, the blade is a lot slimmer, which makes it very light. This is more common for knives having an Asiatic origin. So, the process of cutting automatically becomes more delicate and more comfortable to handle for everyday use.
Edge angle or sharpness: The sharpness of a knife always depends on the blade angle. The lesser the angle is, the sharper is the knife. Santoku Knife has an Asian- style and so a sharper edge almost around 15 degrees. While a chef’s knife, which is styled in a more western fashion, is sharpened to a 20-degree angle per side, it blunt compared to Santoku.
Now let us see the reasons why you should prefer a sharper knife more:
Safety: How many times has it happened that while cutting with a knife, it slipped from your hand, and you injured yourself? This is probably because the knife was blunt, and thus you needed to apply more force while cutting.
Better finish: Whenever you are using a sharp knife for cutting, the cut pieces are better shaped and finer. Thus, you can create wafer-thin slices if you want. If the blade is blunt, the food cells can get destroyed, and the taste and perfection of the food are not maintained.
Aesthetics: What do you find more pleasurable, cutting veggies with a sharp or a blunt knife? When you are using a sharp knife, the cutting process is much easier and faster, and you enjoy the cooking process even more.
Blade Shape and design: The chef’s knife has a curved shaped contour on the top and the bottom of the blade, making the tip more pronounced. It also has a curved edge. Both the well-defined tip and curved edge cause the food to be cut in a “rock-chop” fashion.
Whereas a Santoku Knife is almost straight and horizontal on the top and bottom and the tip is more shifted to the bottom. Here the edge is hollow. So, the motion required here for cutting is either an up and down pattern or a down and forward style chopping motion.
Now how does this matter? It matters because through the “rock-chop” style is used by many chefs, for a more professional cutting and chopping technique, using a Santoku Knife is way more convenient for everyday use. It makes the cutting process faster. Also, efficiency is enhanced.
Blade Length: Not just the blade shape and design, even the length of the blade of a Santoku and chef’s knife is different. The chef’s knife that is more suited for the American style cutting and chopping has a longer blade length, almost 8-10″ to 12″ on average.
Such a long blade length is more accommodable for larger hands. The Santoku Knife is typically designed for Asian style chopping with a relatively shorter blade, maybe 5″ to 7″. Thus, it is more comfortable to be handled on an everyday basis for most people.
Edge Grind: As mentioned earlier, the chef’s knife has a double-sided bevel, forming a V-shape. Whereas a santoku blade usually has a single-sided bevel, which makes it incredibly sharp at the edge. So how does this affect your chopping and cutting style?
A santoku blade has an incredibly pointed tip, which means you can slice, dice, or cut your veggies with high precision. The slices produced here will be long, unbroken, and wafer-like, just like how you see in those recipe videos! Using this knife, you can cut fish, seafood, meat, and vegetables more delicately and intrinsically, creating remarkable and refined pieces, which automatically enhances the look and taste of the good.
On the other hand, a double-bevel knife like the chef’s knife is sturdier and blunter and cannot be used to chop such fine and wafery pieces. It is only useful for piercing into more dense meat and veggies. So, a Santoku Knife here is more beneficial for everyday use because it can do almost everything that a chef’s knife can do plus a little extra.
Material Used: Basically, both Santoku and chef’s knife have blades composed of some steel-based alloy. But since the Santoku is a Japanese-styled knife and thus has a thinner blade, the surface can gradually erode and lose strength.
It has a higher chance of getting chipped. Now, this can be a problem! But so that it lasts long, even with everyday use, the steel alloy used here is extra-hard. It is called the “super-steel’ alloy and provides ultra-strength to the knife. This reduces the chance of any breakage, even though used regularly.
Price: Though the price is more of a subjective matter, which can depend on various factors such as quality of material used, style, brand, designs, manufacturing process, etc. But in general, a chef’s knife is usually more expensive than a Santoku Knife. So, if you are looking for a multi-purpose knife within an affordable range, the Santoku knife may be the better option for regular everyday use.
The Best Uses of a Santoku Knife:
Santoku knives are typically used for slicing, chopping, dicing, and mincing. These knives are particularly useful for preparing thin slices of food, enhancing the aesthetics of dishes.
Let us quickly glance through some of it is uses:
- This knife can be used for cutting meat, fish, fruits, vegetables, and so on. But it is best to avoid cutting dense meat using this knife.
- This knife is best suited for peeling and slicing more soft and delicate food items like seafood, cheese, not so hard veggies since the blade is relatively thin and sharp.
- You can slice, dice, or chop plant-based foods using this knife. It can also be used for mincing meat and herbs.
- If you are preparing any dish that requires finely chopped thin, refined slices such as stir fry, sushi, salad, or maybe sashimi, this knife is undoubtedly the best choice.
The Best Uses of a Chef’s Knife:
The chef’s knife can chop giant meat bones, frozen products, or hard vegetables. They are more suited for thick root vegetables and dense meat. They can also be used for slicing, chopping, and dicing fruits, vegetables, or nuts, but the slices created will not be wafer-like:
Let us quickly glance through some of it is uses:
- Creating pokes in meat so that it can be marinated with herbs and spices.
- Disjointing a whole large chicken or turkey.
After comparing the features and functions of both the knives, it must have been clear till now that the Santoku knife is a much better option when it comes to common everyday use for all purposes than a chef’s knife.