Online Cooking School Forum
I read that many female chefs prefer the Santoku to the German designs, because of their shorter blade lengths. I just want a good knife for general use in cutting, chopping, slicing vegetables, meat, fish and poultry. I would really appreciate your advice for someone who enjoys using quality cookware to produce good food.
PS Over the moon with my Scanpan pans delivered today!
The thing here isn't really the blade length (Western chef's knives come in a variety of lengths, so if that's your concern, you can find a smaller one to suit you). The primary difference is in design and shape of the blade.
Western chef's knives tend to turn up at the end, facilitating a rolling chopping motion taught in many chef schools. Eastern chef's knives (also known as santoku knives) are pretty much flat for the length of the blade, facilitating more of an up-down chopping motion.
The choice is really what you prefer. Do you do the rolling motion or are you more of an up-down kind of girl? Do you use the tip of the blade for detail work, or are you happy switching to a smaller, pointed knife for that?
Another thing to consider is weight. You mention the length of the blade as an issue, but there's also weight to consider. Different brands have very different weights, so it's not even that you can choose a style and then just go with any brand. A 20cm Scanpan chef's knife is much heavier than a 20cm Wusthof or Global chef's knife. Larger knives also weigh more, so if wrist strength or hand fatigue is a concern, then maybe lean toward a smaller blade length and a lighter brand (Wusthof Classic and Global are quite light, whereas Scanpan leans toward the heavier end).
The last thing is the scalloped sides (known as the Granton edge) that is present on many santoku knives. These grooves help to introduce air into each cut, so that food sticks to the blade less (helpful when using the up-down chopping motion, so food doesn't fly about). Western chef's knives don't usually have that feature, but since the rolling motion is quite neat, it isn't usually a problem.
I hope that helps, please shout if something is unclear, or you still have questions.