Everyone say it together now: 三徳包丁! That would be santoku bocho, roughly translated: “most important tool in the Japanese kitchen.” And since we’re rife with Japanese rice cookers, iPhone cases and whisky, it’s probably safe to say it’s a pretty important tool in the American kitchen as well.
Santoku knives are thinner and shorter than chef’s knives — typically 5 to 8 inches — with a rounded tip (also known as a “sheep’s foot”) instead of a sharp triangular point. They’re commonly scalloped along the edge to help release food from the knife so you don’t have to stop and nudge slices off a razor-sharp blade with your fingers. Santokus are great for knifework beginners for these two reasons: less is more and don’t touch knife blades if you’re not accustomed to them. That’s why our recipes editor no longer has fingerprints.
Knifemaking is an ancient art in Japan and many of the old techniques are still used on their authentic santoku knives today. Rather than blow a kind of a lot of money on a lower-quality imitation santoku-style knife, pony up for a big boy weapon and watch those onions go down. Fast.
More Whatchamacallit on Food Republic: