When it comes to Japanese knives, santoku and gyuto are two of the most well-known in the culinary world. But how distinct are these knives? What is the difference between santoku and gyuto? Santoku is a shorter, heavier knife that can be used to cut fish, vegetables, and boneless meat. Gyuto is a traditional Japanese chef’s knife that is significantly longer and pointier and is typically used as an all-purpose knife. Learn more about the differences between santoku and gyuto knives, their characteristics, and the best uses for each!
The Santoku knife was created in Japan in the 1940s and advertised as a multipurpose tool that could perform the “three virtues” of cutting, slicing, and chopping. The santoku knife was demonstrated to be a superior and more manageable alternative that could also be used by beginners when compared to the other options available on the market. People who had never worked with a professional knife at home were attracted to its shorter size and agile yet accurate design.
Santoku effectively bridges the gap between professional and amateur knives because of this. It’s probably one of the least intimidating cutting knives on the market, and it was forged using top-notch Japanese techniques.
Here are some of the main characteristics of a Santoku knife.
Santoku knives are typically shorter and designed with control and precision in mind. Usually no longer than 7 inches, this knife is small enough to fit comfortably in either a man’s or a woman’s hand. It typically has a handle length of 2 to 3 inches, making it easy to grip with your palms without sacrificing accuracy or growing weary. One of the main reasons this knife is chosen over other professional knives, like the gyuto, is its size, as was already mentioned.
Most people can use this knife without having to change their cutting technique thanks to its smaller design. Both the handle and the three-finger grip are options for holding it; while this gives the knife much greater versatility, it does so at a small expense.
When compared to other professional knives, the shape of a typical santoku knife is distinctive. It is not only shorter in length, but it also has a taller blade. Santoku blades have an advantage over other blades due to their taller blade design, which adds more control and accuracy with each stroke. However, because of its slightly thicker spine, santoku is generally heavier and may require some adjustment, particularly for beginners.
The knife’s blade has a straighter edge that allows for glide cuts. While it can be used in a rocking motion, it works best when gliding across food in quick but steady succession. The tip of the blade is rather blunt and subtly rounded, making santoku a poor choice for piercing food. Soft foods like vegetables and fish should be no problem, but beef and other hard foods that require a quick sweeping motion may pose a problem.
Because of how well they are constructed, santoku knives can maintain a sharp edge for a longer period of time. These knives are produced utilizing the world-renowned traditional Japanese knifemaking techniques. Therefore, if you buy a high-quality santoku, you will definitely get your money’s worth. The fact that it is so simple to maintain makes its sharpness the best! All you have to do is use it carefully and have the blade periodically sharpened by a professional service.
Although the blade can also be sharpened at home, if you don’t have much experience sharpening high-quality knives, you should choose professional services. Santoku more than makes up for its lack of piercing ability even with a blunt tip! Consider cutting hard vegetables like carrots or even scoring and dicing onions as a simple exercise made possible by the blade’s extreme sharpness and accuracy.
A santoku knife has many applications, but if you want to maximize its versatility, stick to vegetables, poultry, fish, boneless beef, and nuts. The shorter blade is easier to grip and has a lot of utility when it comes to scoring and dicing food. Even the longer blade design can sweep and pick up food from the cutting board! Ironically, the longer blade design makes it difficult to use the knife for certain tasks. It may be difficult for you to peel vegetables, slice bread, or chop food with bones. As a result, we believe the santoku knife makes more sense when coarsely chopping soft or dense foods.
Unfortunately, due to its shape and size, using a santoku knife for large pieces of dense meat would necessitate cutting through the meat in a sawing motion, which would eventually ruin the texture of the meat slices. The same can be said for slicing very soft foods, such as bread. No matter how sharp or well-maintained your knife is, the unique shape of a santoku knife may end up ruining the delicate texture of bread!
Gyuto knives can be categorized as traditional chef knives. The gyuto knife originates from Japan, just like Santoku. It is created utilizing the same philosophy that guides the creation of incredibly high-quality katanas. The majority of chefs who work professionally around the world use these knives, which are of the highest caliber. They can be used for almost all cutting tasks and have an incredibly balanced grip!
Knives made by Gyuto are constructed from reinforced materials, which aid in preserving their cutting edge over time. One of the reasons this high-quality blade is typically viewed as a long-term investment is its durability and robustness.
Gyuto knives are longer, but there are many different styles available as well. Some gyuto knives can measure up to 9.5 inches in length! However, there are a few options that fall between 6-7 inches (more on this below). The gyuto knife can quickly, precisely, and effectively help you complete even the most difficult kitchen tasks, whether you’re slicing, dicing, chopping, or piercing.
Here are all of the characteristics of a gyuto knife.
Gyuto is a traditional “chef’s knife” that can be larger than a santoku. It is typically 14 inches long and can provide far more coverage when cutting large vegetables or other bulky pieces of food. The overall size of this knife may be intimidating to some newcomers, but because it is extremely well-balanced, you can easily and intuitively grip it with comfort and ease.
The handle of a gyuto has enough space for your palm to rest. If you need more control, simply grab the spine of the blade with three fingers for greater accuracy. This knife’s larger size may make it difficult to handle at first, but once you get the hang of it, the gyuto knife will quickly become your new favorite all-purpose knife!
Gyuto has a conventional straight edge, a modern appearance, and a pointed tip. You might not be able to scoop up a lot of food on the side of the blade because the blade isn’t as tall as a santoku. However, the knife can be used effortlessly in a gliding, rocking, or chopping motion thanks to its extremely balanced width-to-length ratio. A very slight curve on the edge permits both full contact and a light rocking motion.
This implies that you will be able to quickly cut through large vegetables like cabbage, cauliflower, or leafy greens with just one glide in addition to dense foods like meat or nuts. The knife is one of the best tools for cutting meat because of its pointed end. It is simple to use on hard surfaces, and you can also work with bone-in meat with this knife.
Gyuto is made of high-quality stainless steel with a higher carbon content (carbon Damascus Steel), giving it extreme durability and a very long lifespan. Remember that gyuto knives, like santoku knives, are made to the same high precision and strict quality standards! Gyuto knives are among the best in the world and a popular choice among professional users, so manufacturers place a premium on the knife’s quality and longevity.
Most high-quality gyuto knives will retain their sharp edge for an extended period of time if used properly. Even if the edge dulls, it is very simple to sharpen! One of the reasons the gyuto is such a popular cutting tool in the culinary world is its ease of use and extreme precision.
A gyuto knife, known for its versatility, can be used in a variety of ways. Because of its longer blade size and sharp point, this knife can be used for anything from neatly cutting a loaf of bread to carving thick pieces of meat. Do you have bone-in meat to cut? Then this is the knife for you! The gyuto shines through not only in difficult kitchen tasks, but it can also be used for mundane cutting jobs such as coarsely chopping onions, tomatoes, or even dry fruits.
When cooking in large batches, most people prefer to use a gyuto because it can easily perform nearly all cutting tasks in one go — without the need to sharpen it! The disadvantage is that the gyuto knife may not be ideal for peeling or skinning, especially if you use a larger-sized gyuto knife. However, if you choose a smaller gyuto, you may be able to get some value out of this type of knife.
How To Choose The Right Knife For You
The best knife for you will ultimately depend on your preferences and level of expertise. So that you can determine which knife best suits your needs, let’s go over some recommended (and NOT recommended) uses for each.
Santoku — What It’s For
A shorter santoku knife should be sufficient for most people to complete basic kitchen tasks. Cutting vegetables, slicing boneless meat, and chopping dried fruit are examples of such tasks. The knife also has a few functional benefits. Do you recall the wider blade design? Santoku allows you to sweep and pick up chopped food directly from the cutting board by using the blade’s side!
Not only is santoku an excellent cutting tool for any beginner chef, but it can also be indispensable for professionals, allowing them to complete small-scale cooking tasks without switching to another knife.
Santoku — What It’s NOT For
Dense foods are difficult to pierce and slice with a santoku knife. Ironically, the size of the blade is another factor to take into account because it may limit the knife’s range of motion. Cutting through would require a constant slicing or sawing motion when slicing cabbage or larger vegetables. Other foods are also affected by this problem. For instance, a santoku knife might not be the best option for slicing meat into perfectly smooth slices or for carving meat.
Gyuto — What It’s For
We cannot recommend a high-quality gyuto knife highly enough if you are looking for something highly versatile and intuitive! This is possibly the best cutting tool for all major cutting tasks and can easily replace any large chef knife in the kitchen. With extreme precision and control, the gyuto can cut through bone-in meat or other dense foods. Without extra effort, the knife can chop, slice, score (using the tip), or even finely dice food.
Because it is made of high-carbon steel, you may never need to buy another knife! It’s made to last and will keep its sharpness for a long time without needing to be sharpened manually after each use. The gyuto is an absolute must-have for intermediate or professional-level chefs looking for a serious cutting tool that will save them time and effort.
Keep in mind that the gyuto knife is also an excellent choice for beginners who have previously used a santoku. The added benefit here is that because both knives have similar characteristics, you can practice with either one!
Gyuto — What It’s NOT For
Only those who are familiar with the fundamentals of using a chef’s knife should use larger gyuto knives because they can be a little awkward to use at first. The fact that this knife cannot peel food may be its biggest disadvantage. Sure, you could chop off the ends and cut around to remove the peel, but that method won’t be as precise as using a shorter knife, and you’ll also probably waste more food. Gyuto knives can be quite pricey as well. A santoku is a better option if you’re looking for a more affordable and adaptable knife.
Now that you understand the distinctions between santoku and gyuto knives, we thought you might be interested in some related questions.
Should you buy both a santoku and a gyuto knife?
Owning both knives may seem redundant, but if you want to be prepared for anything, it may be a wise choice. A santoku can be used for small-scale or regular kitchen tasks, but a gyuto is better for cooking large quantities of food or for wowing people with your knife skills.
What is the best knife for peeling?
A gyuto or santoku may be too large for fine-tuning tasks like peeling food. Use a smaller paring knife designed specifically for peeling thin slices of fruits and vegetables.