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The great knife debate

The Chef Knife versus the Santoku Knife.

Had some friends around recently . One of them being in the catering industry . I was prepping the vegetables and he queried me as to why I was using a Santoku ,the top two knives in the picture , and not a Chef’s knife , the bottom knife in the picture .

Just some background here . The Santoku knife originated in Japan and it literally means "Three purposes " . The modern Chef knife was developed in France and Germany .

I started off using a chef knife around 17 years ago when I purchased my Mundial Knife Block set . It came with the set . About ten years ago I was given the top in picture Anolon Santoku 17 CM. I alternated between the Mundial Chefs Knife 20cm and the Anolon 17cm Santoku . The Anolon always felt a bit uncomfortable to use as it has a rather big handle and I have small hands . A friend will be turning the wooden handle down shortly .

Ten years ago Mundial released the middle knife in the picture . Their 17 CM Santoku . I was in culinary heaven . It felt good in my hand and touch wood I have had no knicks or cuts from it as it feels like an extension of my arm . My knife skills with the chef’s knife had led to some knicks and cuts . User error rather than knife design .

So basically I have not used my Chef knife for ten years . We discussed the merits of both knives . He felt the Chef’s knife was more versatile and I can see his point of view if you like a bit of "Rock and Chop " action .

This post a bit long winded but what are your thoughts oh this conundrum . ? I would really like to hear from you especially if you favour one or the other knife design .

PS . Sorry my chopping board is in such poor condition . Someone who shall remain nameless keeps forgetting to put a trivet down and puts hot pots and sauce pans on it . Just by the by it is a John Boos Hardrock Maple board 610 x 460 mm (24" x 18") Great to use if you have the counter top space . Will dress it and wax it shortly with John Boos Natural Beeswax . A tube is supplied with the board …

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Having lived in Asia and now have a propensity to cut most foods into smaller bite sized pieces, especially when we stir-fry or prepare other asian dishes…I have always dreamed on buying a good quality Santoku knife. I am still dreaming but will one day when shopping I am sure to buy one… if I see a good one that fits the hand well.

I was told when travelling that the ‘knicks’ or slots in the blade are to assist with food not sticking to the blade (like a potato does on a flat, smooth and very sharp knife), This allows foods to be cut quicker and safer.

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Hi Peter .

Shun is the only Japanese made Santoku I have looked at .For me the handle was a bit small and uncomfortable . The Burrfection YouTube channel shows a great range of Japanese Santokus

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We have two Santoku knives (Baccarat and a Woolies version). They are my preference for cutting and chopping to size. I find the deeper and slightly finer blade is easier to handle and requires less force (more control) compared to a European styled chefs knife.

The real world.
Either are 1000% improved or the old style knives used by my mum and gran in their kitchens. Not much more than glorified steak knives with dubious blades and handles in line with the cutting edge. Knuckle breakers on pumpkin. The only knives of any recognisable form were the bread slicing knife, and a long broad bladed carving knife. A small serrated knife was specially reserved for tomatoes. A consultation for the lack of any household knife with a blade sharp enough to do duty. Apparently a blunt knife was a safety initiative. :roll_eyes:

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Why do you want wax in your food?

As mentioned in another thread I love my chef’s knife. I might be converted but I see no reason to as I am not dissatisfied and if I didn’t like the santoku it would be fairly expensive white elephant. If I was starting out I would try a few sizes and shapes and I recommend that approach.

It comes down to personal preference. If it feels good do it. Did you go shopping and the assistant was reluctant to open the shrink wrap to let you feel it? If so skip that shop - they don’t get it.

Aside from the shape of the blade there is the overall weight, the size, the balance and the handle. The knife has to fit your hand and suit the stiffness of your wrist. If you have smaller hands and softer wrists get a smaller knife. Weight depends on size and thickness, a blade that you can deflect easily will not be all purpose as it will be dangerous in heavy cutting. A blade that is too heavy or badly balanced will tire you. For general use some depth (edge to back) is required to keep your knuckles off the board. As others have said, blunt knives cause many more problems than sharp ones.

The little scallops on the side can be found on blades of various shape, they are intended to stop flat slices sticking to the side of the blade and are not peculiar to the santoku.

Forget dogma, try it out, learn to keep it sharp and to get the best out of it. Religious arguments are for choice of computer operating system of deciding how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

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I bought a set many years ago. At the time they seemed like a good option and worked well initially but after a while it seemed more and more difficult to put and keep a good edge on them. I had them (allegedly) ‘professionally sharpened’ a couple of times, but they never seemed to come back to the standard they had in their earlier years.

Oddly enough I ‘replaced’ them with a Scanpan set more recently and while they are ok for hack use I still find myself going back to the Mundial even though they don’t seem to have the edge they did when new. Aside from the Chefs knife, the Scanpan range are thin and brittle.

For meat (in various forms, sometimes paddock to plate) I start with a KA-Bar or Cold Steel and do the more delicate cuts with a selection of Swibo Wenger butchers knives and often use the latter just for working with meats in the kitchen.

I do put both the Mundial and Scanpan through the dishwasher routinely. Unsure if that is playing a part … Maybe I’m just imagining it? What has your experience been with setting and keeping an edge on the Mundials?

Interesting topic :slight_smile:

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With the Mundial Santoku I usually use a pocket Swiss Combo Star sharpener to keep an edge on it. I have noticed that the Analon Santoku seems to hold it’s edge longer . I think going back 10 -15 years Mundial seemed to have some quality control issues . Another good sharpener I use is the Furi Quadrra Diamond stick . I have two . One for the kitchen and the other in my fishing bag to sharpen my Buck filleting knife .

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Outdoorsmen and those who prize rust-able high carbon knives have long used various oils and polishes on their knives. It is an attention to detail most of us no longer worry about with our stainless varieties, but those with ‘the knowledge’ still do so. I consider them craftsmen who go the extra bit for perfection.

My main kitchen knives are Marks Extractors from the 1980’s when Mundial first tried to break into the higher end market. They were made in Brasil and need recurring TLC but keep their edges as well as ‘the’ Swiss and German brands.

The original Extractor range was relatively short lived, morphed into the Mundial range where they moved production from Brasil and there were QA problems for some years, and then they recovered. I believe the Marks by Mundial range is the modern evolution as they once again eye the higher end.

As for a sharpener, purists did and will cringe at the thought, but I have used a Chef’s Choice 300 (electric!) for decades. When released this sharpener was tested to be as good as most of us ever learnt to manually sharpen, although not to expert level. This seems to be the most equivalent current model for the curious. Mine dates from the early 1990’s, is 110V from the USA, and I still have my US origin KitchenAid mixer, KitchenAid blender, and the sharpener soldiering on with a voltage converter. Considering the prices to replace these irregularly used items the cost to replace them makes no sense unless they die.

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Our Chef knife is a Anolon one. It is the third one replaced under warranty. The first two developed cracks on the blade about an inch from the handle. The cracked ones were not made in Germany like the current one and appears the cracks developed through manufacturing quality issues. At least Anolon were true to their word and replaced the cracked knives under warranty…no questions asked.

Anolon chef knife is a great knife…current one we have had for about 10 years. We sharpen it using a small 75mm pocket stone and can get a very sharp edge that lasts for a long time. We also don’t dishwasher it and only cut on wooden surfaces to protect the edge. It also stays in its sheath when stored.

We also have a Toledo paring knife which is great for smaller tasks. It also sharpens and holds it’s edge well.

We have a sharpening steel, but can’t get the same edge as the stone.

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9 posts were merged into an existing topic: To oil or not oil Wooden Cutting Boards and other wooden implements

The steel should be smooth, none of those channels you often see on them, the steel is the final step of the sharpening process and it’s sole aim is to polish the blade. Work in a meat works long enough and you get to know why they spend a lot of time getting their steels smooth before they polish any blades with them.

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That’s the type we have…didn’t know about this.

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Similar polishing was done by Barbers using Leather Strops on their razors, purely used to polish the blade to get the keenest edge.

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Chef knives, absolutely. We tried a Global santoku and hated it. Mind you, I left home with zero knife and cooking skills and it’s been my husband’s work of the last decade to bring me up to scratch. I can just about chop like a pro now, just a bit slower :joy:

We have two Tramontina cooks knives, 8 inch and 10 inch. They’re a cheaper professional knife, but they are hands down better than any of the more expensive consumer knives we’ve had. We have had a diamond stick sharpener for years, but its worn down and is only working as a steel now so we’re trying to decide between a new diamond stick, a pull through or a flat stone (husband wants the flat stone because he wants to use it on his chisels as well…) The pro knives need more work with sharpening and maintenance, but they are brilliant.

We purchased our knives from a local supplier, but I’ve found them online as well. They arent pretty, but the HACCP friendly white handle can be wiped with bleach for cleaning.

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Horses for courses. We have both, and use them for different jobs. The Santoku knives we purchased form Aldi to try them out. Great buy! The blades are softer than the Mondial etc steel in the Chef’s knives and need sharpening more often. But if kept sharp they are excellent adaptable knives.

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We have a Mundial block set and I used to love the chef knife - until we bought a Wüsthof Santoku. Now the only time I use the Mundial is if my wife has already grabbed the Santoku.

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One difference I did notice between my Santokus . The Analon has a Granton edge blade , flutes in the blade to prevent food sticking to it , and the Mundial does not . Took me awhile to get used to the Mundial but once I did I prefer it . It feels good in the hand where as the Analon is just a bit too big for my small hands . May have my wood working friend turn the wooden handles down on my Analons or replace them with a native wood fitted to my hand size .

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We had a Wusthof Chefs’ Knife for many years but I could never get a really good edge on it, let alone hold an edge.

We now have a Baccarat ID3 Chefs Knife, a Baccarat ID3 18cm Santoku Knife and a Baccarat Wolfgang Stark 14cm Santoku Knife.

I don’t like the Chefs Knife and I find it does not get a very good edge whilst the 18cm Santoku gets a razor sharp edge and has a much better hand feel to it.

To date I have not needed to use the 14cm Santoku Knife.

P.S. Robin’s Kitchen’s website shows that the have a sale on all knives ending at midnight tonight, so you better get in quick. Who knows when they will ever have another sale.

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Oh for want of a good tongue in cheek Emoji?

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