Japanese Knife Care
Proper maintenance of your japanese knives will ensure a lifetime of enjoyment. These tips will help keep your knives in top shape.
Cleaning your Japanese and Sushi Knives
Keeping your Japanese knives spotless is just as important as sharpening them. Apply cleanser on a sponge or wet cloth to clean and polish. You may want to use a little brush on the joint area where the blade and handle are connected. Pour hot water on both sides of the sushi knife to disinfect it. do not use bleach. Use a clean dry cloth to wipe and dry it. For less frequently used knives, apply oil very thinly after the knives are sharpened, cleaned and dried. Wrap the knives individually with desiccant and paper towels or newspapers.
Sharpening Japanese and Sushi Knives on Water Stones
Sharpening Japanese knives professionally calls for three different grades of knife sharpening stones: rough grain (arato), medium grain (nakato) and superfine grain (shiageto). Rough grain is used for adjusting the angle of the edges and reforming the shapes. Medium grain is used for further shaping and sharpening the blades. This is the most frequently used stone. Superfine grain is used for eliminating fine scratches caused by medium grain stone and for obtaining a razor sharp edge. The surface of the stones will deteriorate over time.
How to Sharpen your Japanese Knives correctly.
The following instructions are a typical routine for sharpening knives with medium grain and superfine grain stones.
- Place the whetstone in water deep enough to cover them entirely. Wait 10-20 minutes until no bubbles emerge from the stones.
- With tip pointing away from you, a right-handed person should start to sharpen on the right side of blade. A left handed person should start to sharpen on the left side of the blade.
- Hold the knife tightly. Draw the edge backward and forward at an angle of 10-20 degrees as the illustration on the bottom of the page shows. It is best to sharpen starting with the tip of the edge first, then the middle part, then the lower part. The lower part of the edge is the least important. On each step, when you feel the burr at the side opposite to the one you are sharpening, it is time to move to the next part to be sharpened.
- Repeat the same process for the other side of the blade. This side needs less work and when the burrs are gone, you are finished. The powder that forms on the stone is essential to the sharpening process and should not be rinsed away.
- After sharpening, the knives should be washed in water and dried completely with a soft towel.
Knife Sharpening Do's and Dont's
- Wet stone well before each use. Use droplets of water to reduce temperature from friction.
- Apply long and even, straight back and forth strokes.
- Do not use circular or diagonal motions.
- Place fingers over the portion of the blade to be sharpened.
- Always keep fingers on the blade within the width of the whetstone, and never outside, (hanging over the whetstone).