We'll start with the workhorse of the kitchen. That would be the "Chef" and/or the "Santoku" knife. The chef knife has been around and popularly used for centuries. It is also referred to as a "French" or "French Chef" knife. It comes in various lengths ranging from as small as 5 inches to as large as 12 inches. The size you use depends on what you are doing and how comfortable you are with the knife in your hand. A range of 7 to 10 inches is normal. I prefer using an 8 inch chef knife.
|Top is Santoku & bottom is Chef|
The santoku knife is of oriental origin and has become popular in the states. A variety of chefs on the Food Network use this knife, but it is probably Rachel Ray that really made this knife popular. Just like the chef knife, the santoku knife comes in various lengths. I use a 7 inch one and find that the best size for me. Again it goes back to what you are comfortable with in your hand. I believe that you need to feel comfortable and that helps you feel safer when using a knife. Yes, the size can affect how fast or easy a particular task can be accomplished. However, when handling a knife, safety should always come first.
In the photo, you can see how the blades are shaped differently. Even though the blades are different, both types of knife will perform the duties of chopping, slicing, dicing and mincing that are required for you to get dinner on the table. Now it just comes down to the fact that practice, with either one of these knives, will get you to feeling comfortable.
I use both but didn't get them at the same time. If, like most people, you can only afford one, get just one. Remember that any knife you are going to buy should be a good quality knife. There are a lot of places out there to buy knives. A few good places to look are Kohl's, Food Network and QVC.
At Christmas, my wife and I bought our children and my mother a 5 piece set of knives from QVC. They were reasonably price and of good quality. Look around for a good deal and then make your purchase.
The second important knife for your kitchen is the "Paring" knife. Paring knives have a blade that runs between 2 and 5 inches. Again, it is what length makes you comfortable.
3 sizes of paring knives
In the photo are 3 different sized paring knives. I believe they range from 2 1/2 inches to 4 1/2 inches. I use all three for different tasks. You really only need one. However, over the years you seem to collect more then you need.
This knife is made to handle the small or delicate jobs in the kitchen. Most of the time it is used when handling individual fruits and vegetables. It is great for peeling fruit, coring apples and pear, hulling strawberries, coring tomatoes and peeling potatoes to name a few.
As I stated earlier, the chef knife is the workhorse of your kitchen but the paring knife is close behind. There is one more knife you need as a minimum in your kitchen. Tomorrow we will discuss it and general knife care.