How to Use a Santoku Knife (Detailed Instructions)

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Wondering how to use your new Santoku knife? Well, you have come to the perfect place.

In this TheGrillingDad.com guide, you will discover:

  • About Santoku knives
  • How to use a Santoku knife
  • And much more!
a row of red santoku knives

What is a Santoku Knife?

The Santoku knife is one of the most traditional Japanese knives used in most professional and home kitchens. These knives are typically extremely versatile and can be used for many chopping, slicing, and cutting needs in the kitchen.

Santoku, which means three virtues in Japanese, is the perfect description for this knife since it has three main purposes: cutting, slicing, and chopping. The best ones have great maneuverability and functionality making them one of the best knives to have.

The Santoku knife comes equipped with a handle that is rectangular and has small grooves, which makes it easier to grip. This is even the case when your hands are wet from rinsing off the food you are cutting.

While similar to the Western-style chef’s knife, the Santoku has features that distinguish it as unique and versatile. The knife is made from high-quality carbon steel and rather than a pointed tip, it curves at the end providing a unique cutting experience.

Finally, the Santoku knife is designed with a thin blade that is just perfect for cutting thinly sliced foods. This can cause it to chip if you do not take proper care of the knife.

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How to Use a Santoku Knife

Using a knife is often taken for granted since it is a task that has been done for many years if you have spent any time in the kitchen. The truth is, if you ask most professional chefs, there is an art and science behind using kitchen knives accurately.

While many manufacturers give their recommendations on how to use and care for the tools of the trade, those that use them regularly have additional things to say. This is no different from the Santoku knife in that there are several tips that you should use if you want to get the most out of your Santoku knife.

1. Start with the Right Grip

Using your Santoku knife is just like any other kitchen tool, you need to ensure that you know the proper techniques, which start with the grip. Gripping your knife correctly can make the difference between cutting with ease and the whole process being uncomfortable.

Most experts recommend that you start with the positioning of your arm, which should be at about a 45-degree angle with a slight bend in your elbow, from your cutting board. This will give you the most accurate position as you begin the cutting process.

2. Position Your Fingers

Next comes the positioning of your fingers to get the most accurate cutting motion. This means that your forefinger should settle on the back side of your Santoku knife blade with your other fingers curling around the underside.

This grip is the most commonly suggested since it allows you to grip the knife in such a way as to prevent it from slipping. As you grip the handle, you will want to ensure that you are squeezing with enough force to hold the knife steady, but not too much as to cause you discomfort.

3. Follow with the Proper Motion

Just as important as the way your grip your knife, the motion you use can make a huge difference as well. To get the best results from what you are cutting, using a slight but intentional motion can give you exactly what you need.

Most professional chefs recommend that you begin the motion by holding your knife above the food you are going to cut. You should then come straight down to slice through the food while finishing with a roll forward.

The roll forward is important for a couple of reasons including ensuring that your food is cut cleanly and completely. The other reason for the forward movement is that it keeps the blade of the Santoku knife as sharp as possible.

What Types of Food Can You Cut With a Santoku Knife?

The Santoku knife is so versatile that it can be used for almost any food you are preparing in your kitchen. Although mostly used for cutting meats and vegetables, the Santoku knife is often used to also slice various herbs and garlic cloves.

This knife can be used to cut various types of meats when you want the slices to be thinner and more precise. This is especially true when you are carving such meats as poultry since you typically want thin even cuts.

Fruits can easily be sliced to perfection with the use of the Santoku knife since they tend to have a thinner blade. This thin blade is great for slicing through your various fruits and vegetables without making a huge mess.

Whether you are planning to chop, slice, or cut, the Santoku knife is the best knife to use for these purposes. This is because they are easy to maneuver and grip while preparing your food for cooking or serving.

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What You Need to Know About the Santoku Knife

While the word Santoku means “three virtues” and there are three main purposes of the Santoku knife, they are typically used for four tasks in the kitchen. Basically, whatever you typically use a knife for, you can do with your Santoku knife as long as you take proper precautions.

Here are four uses of the Santoku knife:

  • Basic cutting: for tasks such as cutting meat, as long as it doesn’t entail cutting through bone, the Santoku knife is a perfect choice. Since the blade is thin, it can make cutting your meat more accurate.
  • Slicing: whether you are slicing vegetables to a thin size or attempting to thinly slice fish, the Santoku knife can provide you with a precise option. The thin blade and the sharpness of the knife are the perfect companions for slicing your various foods.
  • Mincing: when it comes to mincing items such as garlic and other herbs, the Santoku knife is up to the task. This is especially true if you take the time to sharpen it right before you begin to mince.
  • Dicing: the Santoku knife can provide you with the most accurate dicing motion for your various vegetables and fruits. This is because the sharp edges of the knife are designed to cut through even the toughest grains you can find in some fruits and veggies.

As you can see, the Santoku knife can be used for so many things in the kitchen, that it will leave you wondering why you haven’t invested in one until now. Since the knife is so versatile, many people prefer them over their other chef’s knives for more accuracy.

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What are the Benefits of Using a Santoku Knife?

For those who use the Santoku knife regularly, the benefits are obvious from the very first time you use it. Although the knife was designed with specific cutting needs in mind, it can be used in a variety of ways.

Check out these benefits of using a Santoku knife:

Versatility

The Santoku knife can be used to cut a large variety of different foods and for different purposes. Whether you need to mince herbs, thinly slice poultry or fish, or even dice fruits and vegetables, the Santoku knife is a great choice.

Ability to Cut Thin Slices

The Santoku knife, with its thin beveled blade, is designed to cut your food into extremely thin slices with the most accuracy. This makes the task of making thin slices of vegetables or meats much easier.

Efficient Cutting Motion 

Since the blade of the Santoku knife is thin with bevels, the cutting motion tends to be more accurate. This means that instead of using a rocking motion like you do when using a standard chef’s knife, the Santoku has a smoother motion.

While the list of benefits can go on and on, these are the three most commonly spoken of by those who use the knife regularly. As kitchen tools go, the Santoku is a must-have item that professionals and home cooks alike should invest in.

The Best Type of Santoku Knife

While there are many different brands of the Santoku knife out on the market, purchasing the best one can make a huge difference. Just as you would when considering the purchase of other tools, you should do your research before deciding on the Santoku knife you want for your kitchen.

You only have to do a quick search on the internet to discover that some of the best brand names in the kitchen industry have developed a Santoku knife. Because of this, it is best to choose yours from the list of those who know what they are doing.

The Hast company has been around for years creating and developing just the right tools for your kitchen needs. Their brand of knives is considered to be one of the best on the market today and should be considered before you purchase your Santoku knife.

The Hast Edition Santoku Knife comes equipped with a 6.3” blade that provides the most accurate cuts for your food. The shorter blade makes it much easier to get precise cuts and slices from your meats and vegetables.

This knife that you can purchase for less than $100, comes in a variety of colors to fit your kitchen decor the best. The Hast Santoku knife is made from Matrix Powder Steel that fits the minimalist design of this Japanese knife perfectly.

Tips for Caring for Your Santoku Knife

As with most other types of tools used in and out of the kitchen, the Santoku knife works best when it is well taken care of. This includes everything from using it properly to ensuring that it remains at its sharpest throughout its lifetime of use.

The Santoku knife should be cleaned with soap and water after every use to avoid any build-up sticking to the knife. The residue left behind on your Santoku knife can cause it to work less efficiently over time.

It is also important that you dry your knife off after it has been washed to avoid rust from taking over the blade. Rust that builds up on your Santoku knife can cause it to be less accurate during use in the long run.

After you have used your Santoku knife for a while, you may want to consider taking it to a professional sharpener. This will ensure that your knife is staying as sharp as it was when you first purchased it.

Pros and Cons of Using a Santoku Knife

As with most kitchen tools, there are many advantages and disadvantages to using a Santoku knife as part of your repertoire. This is because, depending on the needs you have, you may find a lot of use from the knife, or it could end up being just another tool you have.

Pros:

  • Precise slicing ability
  • Lightweight design
  • Versatile enough to use with any food

Cons:

  • The thin blade can chip easily
  • Is not recommended for thicker and tougher cuts of meat

As you can see, although there are both pros and cons of using the Santoku knife, most people will agree that having it as part of your kitchen tools is well worth it. 

Final Thoughts on Using a Santoku Knife

The bottom line when it comes to using a Santoku knife is that you should always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations. This is because if you want to keep your knife in the same condition as when you bought it, the knife needs to be taken care of.

If you want a knife that gives you the most precise and thinly cut slices of vegetables, fruits, meats, and even herbs, most people look no further than the Santoku knife. Most professionals and home chefs all agree that the Santoku knife is a must-have in your kitchen.

Hope Davis

Hope Davis

Born in Denver, Colorado as the oldest of 5 children, I learned at a young age that the grill was one of the best ways to prepare food for a crowd. And during the winter storm months, when the snow was likely to knock out the power to our house, the propane grill was a lifesaver! You wouldn’t believe the number of things you can cook on a grill when necessary. With parents who couldn’t tell salt from pepper unless you told them, I spent my late teen years making my own seasoning mixes and marinades to dress the meat before barbecues. It wasn’t long before I developed a secret marinade that people still beg me to make for them today! When I was 21 years old I bought my first smoker. Picked up some cedar chips for making a cedar plank salmon...and well, the rest they say is history! I’ve been grilling and smoking all kinds of creations ever since and I’m always excited to share my passion with others through my favorite medium--writing!

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