There are many different types of knives and each of these is useful for different tasks. If you love cooking and you are trying to build a collection of knives, it is important to choose the knives that are the most suitable for the type of cuisine you create. By selecting the most appropriate knives, you will find preparing your food easier and achieve better results. Two knives that you may consider include the Chef’s knife and the Santoku knife. Here is an overview of both with the pros and cons of each. This will help you to decide which is the best to choose for your knife collection.
What is a Chef’s Knife?
A chef’s knife is also known as a cook’s knife. This is the primary general-utility knife used by Western cooks for many different functions. However, it was originally designed for disjointing and slicing large cuts of beef. There are French and German-style chef’s knives, and these differ only in the shape of the blade edge. The French chef’s knife has a straighter edge and only curves up at the tip, while the German chef’s knife has a continuous curve along the edge.
The Characteristics of a Chef’s Knife
This type of knife has several characteristics that distinguish it from other knives. Some of these include:
- Length- A chef’s knife will usually measure eight inches in length and one and a half inches wide. However, there are models measuring anywhere between six and 14-inches.
- Curved blade- Both the spine and the spine and the edge of a chef’s knife have a slight curve. The curve on the edge of a German knife is greater than that of the French-style chef’s knife.
- Edge- There are variations in the way in which a chef’s knife is ground. Some of the options include double grind, convex edge, single grind, chisel edge, hollow-grind, double bevel, and V-shape.
The Pros and Cons of a Chef’s Knife?
A chef’s choice is one of the most commonly used knives by professional chefs and is also a popular choice for amateur cooks. This is because this type of knife has many pros. Some of these include:
- Robust and versatile- In many ways, a chef’s knife is more versatile than a Santoku because you can use them for both precise and tough jobs. They will easily carve through vegetables, meat, or fish.
- Durable- A chef’s knife is more durable because of the materials from which they are made. They are softer than Japanese knives, so they are less likely to chip. They are usually made from materials which are stain and rust-resistant.
- Bolster- Unlike the Santoku, a chef’s knife has a bolster, and this gives finger protection as it prevents your fingers from sliding onto the blade.
- Better grip- The design of chef’s knives’ handles means they usually have better grip than Japanese knives.
There are also some negative points to this knife. Some of the cons include:
- Lack of control- Although the long blade is an advantage for carving larger ingredients, it also makes the knife difficult to control.
- More sharpening- The softer metal used for a chef’s knife means that they need sharpening more regularly.
What is a Santoku?
Also known as the Santokubocho or the Bunks bocho, this is a general-purpose knife that originates in Japan. The name Santokubocho means ‘three uses’ and this perfectly describes this knife. The three main uses of a Santoku are slicing, dicing, and mincing.
The Characteristics of a Santoku?
There are several characteristics that define a Santoku. Some of these characteristics include:
- Length- The typical length of a Santoku is between five and seven inches.
- Shape of the blade- A Santoku has what is known as a sheepsfoot blade. This means the edge of the knife is almost flat while the spine runs parallel to the edge for approximately two-thirds of the blade and the final section angles by 60-degrees to the tip in the shape of a sheepsfoot.
- Motion- Compared to a Western-style chef’s knife, the Japanese Santoku has very little rocking travel when cutting due to its linear edge.
- Hardness- Usually, a Santoku is harder than a Western knife.
- No bolster- Although there are some exceptions, a Santoku will typically have no bolster.
- One-side edge- Most Japanese knives have a chiseled tip, which means they are sharpened only on one side. The edge is sharpened to an angle of between 12 and 15-degrees.
The Pros and Cons of a Santoku?
Amongst Japanese chefs, the Santoku is the most commonly used knife. It is also a popular choice for many Western chefs. The benefits of choosing a Santoku include:
- Lightweight- A Santoku is generally lighter than a Western chef’s knife and some chefs prefer this as they find a lightweight knife easier to use.
- Precise- This type of knife is perfect for precision cutting, so it is ideally suited to chopping vegetables into small pieces or fine slice.
- Control- Japanese knives are sharpened only on one side and this gives the chef greater control over the knife.
- Narrow blade- Japanese knives have narrower blades than Western knives, so they can produce thinner cuts.
- Speed- Santoku knives cut faster because they are harder, thinner, and do not require a rocking motion.
- Easy to sharpen- These knives usually do not have a bolster, and this means they are easier to sharpen.
- Edge retention- Japanese knives usually have a sharper blade that retains its edge for longer.
Like all products, the Santoku also has some downsides. Its negative points include:
- Less finger protection- Although the lack of a bolster means that you can sharpen the blade more easily, it is also a disadvantage. As there is no bolster, there is no protection to prevent your fingers from sliding onto the blade.
- Too flexible- The flexibility of these knives mean they are not good for many tough jobs, such as deboning meat or carving harder vegetables.
So, is it better to buy a Santoku or a chef’s knife? Overall, the chef’s knife is the most versatile option as you can use it for more tasks. Therefore, you will get the most use out of this knife. However, if you do lots of cooking at home or you are a professional chef, then it is worth considering having both knives in your knife collection as the Santoku is a lightweight option that has an excellent edge and is a great choice for precision work.