Q: What is a santoku knife? A: Before World War II, home cooks in Japan used different knives for different tasks: nakiri bocho for vegetables...

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Q: What is a santoku knife?

A: Before World War II, home cooks in Japan used different knives for different tasks: nakiri bocho for vegetables, deba bocho for filleting fish, yanagiba bocho for sashimi and so on, says Hiroko Shimbo, an award-winning-cookbook author.

With the innovation of prepackaged, frozen and instant food products in the 1940s, cooks needed an all-purpose knife that could cut vegetables, fish and chicken, as well as red meat. It was then that the santoku bocho was invented.

The santoku is similar to a traditional chef’s knife, except it has a shorter length and a broader blade that is thinner in width. It has a straight cutting edge like a cleaver but curves up slightly at the tip.

Some versions have a granton edge, or evenly spaced indentations along the blade that keep particles from sticking and reduce friction.

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