The Santoku knife is a must-have tool for any serious or aspiring chef. It’s versatile, sharp, and efficient; the right way to use it can help you save time in the kitchen while tackling a variety of tasks.

Although it may seem like a relatively simple tool to use, you may have a few questions about how it’s best used in your kitchen.

That’s why we’re here. As long-time pro cooks, we have seen just about every kitchen and knife, and the Santoku is not too difficult once you start using it regularly.

In this article, we’ll be discussing how best to use a Santoku knife, as well as some of the different techniques available and tips on how to care for your knife.

Key Insights

  • Always keep the blade sharp by using honing steel and use a sharpening stone to keep it in top condition.
  • Hold the handle of the Santoku firmly but comfortably, making sure that your index finger rests on top of the blade.
  • Position the blade so that it slices through food at an angle rather than straight down.
  • Use a chopping motion with the Santoku, making sure to keep your other hand out of the way while you are cutting.
  • Always cut away from yourself and use a cutting board to protect both you and your knife.

What Can You Do With A Santoku?

A Santoku is an all-purpose Japanese kitchen knife that excels at slicing, dicing, mincing, and chopping vegetables, herbs, fish, and meat.

Santokus are becoming increasingly popular due to their wide range of uses and their distinctive, wide-blade design which makes them ideal for slicing and dicing.

The Santoku is also a great choice for tasks that require precision cutting, such as julienning or making fine slices.  It also works well for making thin, even cuts on items such as squash and potatoes.

How To Hold A Santoku

The key to getting the best performance out of your Santoku knife is in how you hold it. Without positioning your hand optimally, you’re making it more difficult to get the clean and precise cuts that so many ingredients require.

Hands And Fingers

You should position your hands and fingers so that they provide stability during the cut. Your dominant hand should be placed near the back of the blade with your index finger slightly extended along the spine, while your other hand should grip firmly around the handle.

It’s important to keep a secure grip on both sides of the knife so that you can control its movements accurately.

The Guiding Hand 

The guiding hand position largely depends on the type of task you are performing.

If you are mincing or chopping, you should grip the food item firmly with your fingers and use your other hand to guide the knife.

For slicing, it’s best to keep your guiding hand slightly in front of the knife as you make each cut.

Your other hand should always be in a guiding position, while the dominant hand performs the cutting motion. This is important because it provides stability and helps to ensure that you get an even cut.

What Types of Food Are Meant For a Santoku?

Due to its wide-blade design, the Santoku is perfect for slicing and dicing vegetables, herbs, and fish, and of course also for cutting meat. It’s also great for making precision cuts like julienning or creating fine slices.

The Santoku is a particularly good choice for slicing through tough-skinned fruits, such as pineapples and oranges, due to its ability to make clean cuts without damaging the flesh.

Its shorter handle makes it suitable for use in tight spaces and its extra weight gives it greater stability when making larger cuts.

Cutting With A Santoku

Push Technique

The push technique involves using the forward momentum of your hand to guide the blade through whatever you are trying to cut.

The motion requires holding the Santoku with two fingers on each side above the bolster, bearing down slightly as you draw it across and in front of whatever you are cutting.

Keep in mind that this technique also works best when there is downward pressure applied while cutting so that the blade meets less resistance and cuts more cleanly.

If done correctly, this technique should provide smoother cuts with less fatigue in your arms and shoulders.

Rocking Technique

The Rocking Technique is an effective method of safely slicing vegetables and proteins.

This technique involves gripping the handle of the knife securely, placing the heel of the blade on the cutting board, and rocking it between both hands through the items being sliced. It can be used to easily make slices of various thicknesses while maintaining control over the blade at all times.

The support hand should provide enough pressure to guide the blade along, but not so much that it causes discomfort or becomes too insecure. With practice, this technique can quickly become second nature, resulting in consistent and precise cuts every time.

Chopping Technique

Additionally, you can use a chopping technique by quickly and firmly hitting the back of the blade with the heel of your hand. This method is great for breaking down larger ingredients into smaller pieces.

This involves placing your fingers bent and apart on top of the food item, gripping lightly with firm pressure. Hold the blade at a slight angle and move it back and forth with short, powerful strokes, making contact heavily at each forward stroke and lightly at each backward stroke.

Mincing with a Santoku

Minced food requires small, even cuts that are easy to achieve with a Santoku knife.

To mince, start by placing the tip of the blade on top of your ingredient and then make short, quick chops by pressing down against it. Do this for every cut until you reach your desired consistency.

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What Can’t I Do with a Santoku?

Although Santokus are versatile knives that can be used for most kitchen tasks, they aren’t ideal for tougher tasks like cutting through bones or hard-skinned fruits and vegetables.

Instead, you should use a chef’s knife which is specifically designed to handle these types of tasks. The chef’s knife has a longer blade and is constructed with thicker, harder steel that won’t bend or warp under pressure.

It’s also heavier than the Santoku, which helps it make powerful cuts.

How to Care For A Santoku

It’s important to properly care for your Santoku in order to keep it in good condition and get the best performance out of it.

Here are a few maintenance tips to follow for your Santoku:

  • Clean and dry your Santoku after each use
  • Sharpen it regularly using honing steel or whetstone
  • Never put your Santoku into the dishwasher as this can damage its blade.

Do I Need To Sharpen My Santoku?

Yes, you should sharpen your Santoku regularly in order to keep its edge sharp and maintain its performance. A dull Santoku won’t be able to make clean and precise cuts, which can be awkward and dangerous.

Honing steel or a whetstone should be used every few weeks or so, depending on how often you use the knife. You may also want to refer to the instructions on the product packaging.

Following this guide will help prevent the blade from becoming dull over time.

In Summary

With proper care and maintenance, your Santoku can become an indispensable tool for any home cook or aspiring chef.

With its wide-blade design and versatile cutting techniques, this all-purpose Japanese kitchen knife is perfect for tackling a variety of tasks with ease and efficiency.