Telling the Difference Between Gyutou and Santoku Knives

Posted by Amanda Delatorre on

For many chefs and home cooks, a versatile, all-purpose knife serves as the backbone of their kitchen tool collections. Because this knife will likely get the most use, you want to find a reliable, high-performance knife that matches well with your cooking style and personal preferences. Japanese knives have become the standard of quality craftsmanship around the world and can meet a wide range of needs. Among the many shapes available , there are two popular multipurpose styles: gyutou and santoku. We’ll go over the difference between gyutou and santoku knives to help make your decision easier.

Gyutou Knives

Gyutou knives are considered a Western-style Japanese knife. In other words, they’re similar to the shape of function of the chef’s knives that originated in Europe. today. Japanese craftsmen based the gyutou design on the knives they acquired from European countries. Gyutou knives are usually 7-9” long and generally have a double bevel (50/50 or 70/30) sharpened edge and a slightly curved belly or cutting surface. A gyutou is great for slicing, chopping, mincing, and can easily perform other cuts on a wide array of ingredients. Meat, vegetables, fish, and fruit can all be processed with a gyutou knife. The reason you may want a gyutou knife over a plain chef’s knife is that they tend to be thinner and sharper and hold an edge longer than their typical Western counterparts.

Santoku Knives

Santoku knives are more distinctively Japanese in design.  They came into wide use following WWII, when Japanese people began to prepare a wider range of ingredients due to Western influences. The gyutou shape was somewhat foreign to Japanese cooks, and the santoku gained popularity because it had more similarity to the knife shapes, they were used to like a nakiri (a square vegetable cleaver. The santoku, which is usually around 7” and slightly shorter than a gyutou with a higher blade height that keeps the knuckles higher off the cutting board.  The santoku is named for the three virtues of cutting fish, meat and vegetables and the straight blade edge is well suited to straight up and down chopping motions.

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