Aspiring chefs who are getting around to learning more about Japanese knives will appreciate how they can improve your overall culinary skills. But for those who are unsure about which knife will be best, we’re comparing the Nakiri knife Vs Santoku knife.
This is so you get a better understanding of why each has an advantage over the other and what makes them so different when it comes to cutting.
What is the difference between Nakiri and Santoku knives?
While the only direct comparison between these two knives is that they both come from Japan, they are not intended to be used for the same purposes. If you already have basic chef skills or are learning about new additions to your knife collection, the main difference is their overall shape.
The Nakiri knife is very similar in appearance to a meat cleaver with an elongated rectangular appearance. It’s mainly used for straight-down chopping using a forward and downward slicing stroke. Often, this knife will have a hammered surface to reduce resistance while cutting.
The Santoku knife will appear similar to a Chef knife with a rounded point toward the tip. The blade is also slightly rounded with the center of the blade touching the cutting board first. This allows cutting that gives some degree of rocking up and down.
Both of these knives are meant for chopping and slicing depending on your preference and the need for accuracy. Because the visual appearance is so different, your choice may also be motivated by how these knives look and how they feel in your hand.
What is a Nakiri knife good for?
The shape of a Nakiri knife is best for straight-down slicing cuts on your cutting board. It’s best for making thin cuts, especially when cutting tender items like ripe tomatoes and delicate vegetables. Essentially it’s best used for cutting, chopping, dicing, and mincing veggies.
Because the Nakiri knife is sharpened on both edges, it makes sense to use this knife for vegetables and fruits that could deform using any other type of knife. It’s not recommended to chop frozen food or chop through bones.
It can be used to cut through meat and fish, however most chefs like the Nakiri for cutting vegetables to get clean and straight cuts where appearance matters the most. Because it has a shallow rectangular blade that tends to look like a mini cleaver, it’s perfect for fluid chopping.
What can I cut with Nakiri?
If you have many dense vegetables, the Nakiri knife will be a champion knife for this task. Since the shape of this knife often has a tip forward weight advantage, this gives Chefs better control of downward slicing and chopping for veggies.
This is perfect for chopping somewhat difficult items like onions that can be diced easily using a forward slicing with a slightly angled tip on each cut. The razor-sharp blade edge allows onions to be cut without experiencing separation between the onion layers.
It’s also perfect for cutting through larger vegetables like cabbage and turnips. If you love making coleslaw, the Nakiri knife makes perfect slices with very little resistance on each slice. When it comes to delicate herbs, this will mince and slice these soft and leafy ingredients easily.
It’s also a great show knife if you want to prepare your food in front of others. The stark look of this knife style further showcases the ingredients and items you’re preparing for stir fry or salads. Most people will be amazed that a knife that looks like a cleaver is used for precise cuts.
What is a Santoku knife best used for?
In terms of an all-purpose knife, the Santoku knife comes to the rescue in many cases. The translation of the word literally means Three Virtues’ in Japanese. This makes it perfect for chopping, dicing, and mincing.
Unlike the Nakiri, this knife will typically have a single sharpened edge instead of a dual-edge sharpened blade. This provides a thinner blade that is sharpened at 15 degrees and will perform a variety of tasks that include cutting meat, vegetables, fruits, herbs, and even nuts.
It slices through problematic dairy products including cheese that tend to make irregular cuts with other knives. The resulting slices are nice and clean but not good for very soft items like bread. It also should not cut through bone because of the thinner blade edge.
Since it’s so similar to a Chef knife it makes scooping up items from a cutting board just as easy. If you are looking to make very ornate and thin slices, the Santoku knife is best for aesthetically pleasing cuts on both veggies and fruits.
Can a Santoku replace a Chef’s knife?
In terms of general kitchen usage and the versatile nature of how Santoku knives are used, this can replace a Chef knife. It has a similar appearance and is perfectly balanced just like a Chef knife. In terms of personal style, the look alone is more reason to include this type of knife.
It won’t completely replace a Chef knife for many reasons since you might want a stronger blade for certain meats and dense vegetables using a Chef knife. When you want to have super clean cuts that are meant to keep your food presentation looking cleaner, the Santoku will be best.
What knife is best for cutting meat?
Obviously, both of these knives will do fine for cutting meat, aside from the part where a Santoku knife is better for slicing cooked meat. This will provide straight and clean cuts that are perfect for seafood as well. Preparing meat for dishes can use either type of knife alternatively.
If you are cutting fish such as salmon, the Santoku is obviously the best choice for getting the perfect cut each time. With a bit of practice, a Nakiri knife can still do a great job depending on your slicing style.
Nakiri Vs Santoku: Which knife is better?
The choice between these two knives is certainly a tough call for very obvious reasons. They are both great knives with different blade shapes and sharpened edges. They cut vegetables and fruits with expert results and will cut meat just as nicely.
The fact that these two knives are Japanese style can make an excellent addition to any custom chef knife collection. As any Chef who is looking for precision and something undeniably unique, adding a Nakiri or Santoku knife can improve your culinary standards.
The debate for comparing the Nakiri knife Vs Santoku knife is completely a matter of choice if you look at these knives from an aesthetic point of view. They’re both great knives that are versatile in the kitchen.