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Stupid Santoku Knife question re: handedness

  • j

Is there such a thing or am I, as usual, over thinking this? I am right handed. When I slice a cucumber with my regular chefs knife I hold the cuc in my left hand and the knife in my right hand and the slices come off the right side of the knife. The cuc being, well, a cuc, the slices stick to the blade. It seems to me that if I get a Santoku knife and the scallops are on LEFT side of the blade, the slices are still going to stick to the blade when I use it. Most of the knives I looked at have them on the left, so, what am I missing here?

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  1. The scallop indentations are not there because they are intended to prevent slices from sticking to the blade after the cut. They are supposed to reduce friction in the cut itself and the initial separation of the slice, so that it won't stick to the bade overly in the first place. That's the idea, anyway - I use a single ground Japanese-made santoku without scallops and haven't had any problems.

    1. Call me crazy, but every santoku knife I've ever seen has the chuckers on both sides of the knife. Someone prove me wrong!

      5 Replies
      1. re: aburkavage

        You aren't crazy, that's a very popular style right now. But that's not the only type of santoku knife ever made, as any superficial browser search will tell anyone.

        1. re: trentyzan

          "Most of the knives I looked at have them on the left, so, what am I missing here?"

          I will concede that some Japanese manufacturers offer the scallops on one side of the blade. But I'd be willing to bet that the major manufacturers - Wusthof, Henckels, Global, Shun, Messermeister, etc. - only offer blades which have the chuckers on both sides.

          1. re: aburkavage

            My MAC Mighty santoku (Japanese made knife), which is without a doubt my favorite knife when at work at the restaurant, has scallops, (chuckers) on both sides of the blade.

            My life would be less without this knife.


            1. re: AndyP

              My thanks to you both for conceding the point. Those are all excellent mainstream brands and styles which enjoy great popularity due to their precise manufacture. I hope we can all continue to enjoy non-, single- or double-scalloped knifes that are single or double ground without making obtuse generalizations that only one type exists or should be used by everyone exclusively.

              1. re: trentyzan

                Pay little attention to those scallops in the knife blade. They do little to reduce friction and almost nothing to reduce food sticking to the blade.

      2. Thanks all for the enlightenment.

        1. I hold my cuc in my left hand too

          1. My go-to knife, a Glestain santoku, has big dimples on the right side of the blade. The left side of the blade is flat. It is intended for right-handers, but models with the dimples on the other side for left-handers are available by special order.

            The big dimples really do work. The newly cut slices of cucumber, potato, eggplant, or whatever don't stick to the blade.

            1. I don't think which side the dimples are on will make much of a difference. As far as I know, whether you are right or left handed only really comes in play with Shun knives, which have a sort of d-shaped handle designed for right handed people.

              1 Reply
              1. re: chuckl

                Single beveled knives (traditional Japanese knives like yanagiba, usuba, and deba), the Glestains that Tanuki Soup mentioned above, and any double beveled knives with an extreme asymmetry (like 90/10 or more) are also hand-specific.

                The d-shaped Shun handles - some lefties mind using em, some don't. And of course Shun makes left-handed d-shaped handles for lefties that do mind.

                For anyone interested in the OP at this point - most dimpled knives are designed to reduced friction while cutting, not to keep food from sticking. They help a bit, though they don't make nearly as much difference as edge sharpness or thinness behind the edge, or overall grind and profile. It doesn't matter much which side of the knife the dimples are on for these knives. But the Glestains Tanuki Soup mentions above effectively do reduce the amount of food that sticks to the knife. In that case, a right handed knife needs the dimples on its right side.

              2. It may just be my imagination (or poor knife skills), but it seems to me that Japanese knives with a "Damascus" layered blade construction seem to stick less while slicing and to release slices more easily. Maybe the wavy patterns impart some sort of microscopic surface roughness to the sides of the blade?

                2 Replies
                1. re: tanuki soup

                  Sorry, the picture I tried to post didn't "stick". A knife like this one:

                  1. re: tanuki soup

                    That is one of their claims. In practice, it's hard to separate out the surface texture from the edge geometry though, since not many makers make the exact same knife both with and without damascus cladding.