What is a Chef Knife ?

The most versatile knife for a cook to own is unquestionably what is known in the west as the chef knife .  It can be used for jobs of all sizes including cutting, slicing, chopping, and mincing.  The blade has a long flowing curve that allows it to slide effortlessly through vegetables, fruit or meat.  It is a high-performance knife for everyday tasks like chopping herbs, dicing and slicing meats.  It will be the workhorse knife in your kitchen so it is important that it feels comfortable to use.


A Chef knife has a long profile with a wide and slightly curved blade to allow it to rock forward as you slice.  It’s length allows for larger quantities of ingredients to be chopped at once.  The heel of the blade tends to be wider and thicker which makes it useful for cutting thicker vegetables because it allows the user to apply greater downward force while keeping the blade stable.


Chef’s knives normally are offered in blade lengths running from 6 to 12 inches.  The idea is the longer the blade the larger the job it can do.  It sounds great in theory but the reality is there comes a point at which the blade is too long to control effectively.  For most people the ideal chef knife is somewhere between 7 and 10 inches.


Some cooks use the chef knife for almost every cutting job in the kitchen except for very small produce or boning.  Due to its size it is ideal for mincing or chopping through larger quantities of ingredients.


The roots of a chef knife can be traced through 3 main channels – German, French, and Japanese.  German knife design has a wide belly that narrows along its curved edge all the way to the blade tip.  The idea is that the knife can be used with a rocking motion during cutting.  A French chef knife has a much straighter edge at its base and only starts to curve near the knife tip.  French and German knife blades are heavier and made of softer stainless steel.  They will need to be sharpened frequently.

A traditional Japanese chef knife—called a gyuto—has a straight edge and curves slightly toward the tip like the French blade.  The difference is that qualty Japanese knives are made of harder steel and have a much thinner blade.  As a result it is precision sharp, agile, and requires less frequent sharpening. 


Designed in Japan, the Kikusumi 7-inch Chef’s Knife is formed from zirconium which is second only to diamond on the hardness scale.  The blade is thin and precise like Japanese steel knives yet won’t dull quickly like the softer steel knives.  It is also lighter than steel blades which gives it an extra agile cutting ability.



What is a Santoku Knife and What Makes it Ideal for any Kitchen?

What is a Santoku knife?” might be difficult to answer for most Americans and Europeans to answer.  The word santoku means “three virtues” and refers to the three types of cuts at which it excels—slicing, dicing, and chopping. For Japanese cooks a Santoku knife is the equivalent of the chef knife for the Western cook. Multiple oval indentations are ground into the side of the blade to help release the food as it slices.  This is especially useful with fruit and protein where the moistness normally makes it stick to the blade.

Put simply, the Santoku is an all-purpose knife with a uniformly wide blade designed for slicing, dicing and mincing both large and small ingredients.  Perfect for the home cook, this daily-use knife is ideal for preparing most fruit, vegetables and boneless meats, fish or poultry.


With a blade that is the same width across its length and has a squared rather than a pointy end.  The blade is uniformly wide, which makes it great for peeling cylindrical vegetables like daikon or carrots horizontally.  Across the center of the blade oval-shaped cuts have been carved into the blade to help it release while it is cutting.


A santoku is an all-purpose kitchen knife that comes in 2 sizes.  One size is similar to the chef’s knife while the mini-size is more similar in length to a utility knife.  The 5″ (12.5 cm) mini-santoku can be used for small to medium cutting jobs in the kitchen.  A larger 5.5″ (14cm) santoku knife is considered the standard size blade in Japan.  Although larger blades can sometimes be found they are not ideal as the compactness and width of the blade is what brings out its special qualities.  If the blade is longer the knife becomes more difficult to maneuver which in turn reduces consistency and cutting speed.  Choose either the mini or standard blade depending on what sizes of fruit and vegetables you use most.  Kikusumi offers a mini-santoku in the 3 kitchen knife set as well as a 5.5″ knife sold individually.


Useful for almost any job the Santoku knife is the one most commonly used by Japanese cooks. Vegetables, fruit, fish or boneless meat can be prepared successfully with a santoku knife because its wide blade makes even cutting more consistent and easier.  A mini version of this knife achieves the best results with smaller and medium size vegetables and fruit like a kiwi.  A 5.5″ (14 cm) blade does better with larger vegetables like daikon and onion.

When cutting larger quantities of ingredients, lighter knives will cause less fatigue compared to heavier knives.  The blade profile of a Santoku is straight so that controlling the thickness of slices is easy.  The thin blades on these knives make precision cutting effortless.  Cutting with this uniquely shaped knife use a slight forward motion as the knife descends vertically. Once you get used to it you’ll find that you have much more control over the knife and the thickness of the cut.  The santoku knife offers similar benefits to a typical Western chef’s knife but with the benefit of being lighter in weight and wider in blade which makes it easier to control.