How many knives do you have to own to function efficiently in the kitchen? I don’t have too many knives. I have a cleaver, a chef’s knife, a bread knife, a slicing knife, a utility knife and a couple of paring knives. And that’s it. Well, until I bought this santoku and partoku set last weekend.
A decade or so ago, I was convinced that I only needed a cleaver. And I cooked with just a cleaver for many years. But the time came when I found the cleaver heavy. Perhaps, it had to do with the amount of cooking. You don’t chop and slice too much meat or fish or vegetables when you’re cooking for two adults and two young girls. But my girls grew up and I found myself cooking for four adults. And doing all the chopping and cutting and slicing with a cleaver became too tiring. So, I bought a chef’s knife. And I’ve been using it for a couple of years. I only take out the cleaver when I have to chop through chicken and fish bones.
But the thing about knives is that it isn’t true that a knife is a knife is a knife. A chef’s knife, for instance, varies in weight, blade quality, length and even the ergonomic design of the handle depending on the manufacturer. Sometimes, it becomes a never ending search for the knife that conforms to the cook’s preferences and the one the feels most comfortably in his hands.
A chef’s knife is great but it wasn’t really made for Asian cooking. It’s great for cutting large slabs of meat but it isn’t the ideal tool for making thin slices of meat, fish and vegetables that Asian dishes often require. And that is something that a santoku knife is supposedly ideal for.
What is a santoku knife? Santoku, according to one article, “has Japanese historical significance meaning ‘three virtues’, and a Santoku knife wears its name quite proudly, with its marvelous chopping, dicing and mincing abilities.” A santoku knife is straighter (i.e., the edge is almost flat rather than curved) than the Western chef’s knife, is lighter but made with superior blade for that exceptional sharpness and acute cutting angle. The kullens or the scallops on both sides of the blade often found in Western manufactured santoku knives help prevent meat or fish from sticking to the sides of the blade.
A santoku knife may be as long as eight inches or as short as five inches. The smaller knife in the photo is a small santoku but is sold by Chicago Cutlery under the trade name Partoku. It is a cross between a santoku and the Western paring knife but actually works as an all-purpose knife.
I’m starting to love these knives so much that I’ve began using them to the exclusion of all others.
Where did I buy them? Raffles at Eastwood Mall. I made it to the last day of the semi-annual sale and I bought the santoku and partoku set for only P950.00.