Japanese knives have great prestige in the world of chefs and their care is essential. In this post, we uncover the secrets to take care of your Japanese knives in 5 simple tips.
“You can not master Japanese cuisine without mastering its cutting techniques in depth”, famous chef Makoto Okuwa pointed out, and was right. Even if you have a good knife, you should dedicate time to its care.
Japanese Knives Tradition
In the kitchen, the quality of the products we cook is crucial, but the tools and utensils we use could be even more important. That is a very well known principle in Japan, where it takes years of practice and study to become a good chef.
Damask steel Japanese knives are crafted from a unique alloy of hammered steel layers that results in a high quality piece, created by master craftsmen who have inherited the technique of sword forging from samurai warriors.
A good Japanese knife is made from a single piece of steel, has a balanced handle and is well sharpened. In addition, most Japanese knives are sharpened in only one side of the Blade (single bevel technique) unlike the western knives.
In addition to the differences between Western and Japanese knives, the most important feature is the philosophy that exists around the use of knives. Japanese professional chefs never share their knives because they consider them an extension of their arm.
Some cooks have two sets of knives, which alternate every two days. After sharpening a carbon steel knife at night after use, the user usually allows the knife to “rest” for a day to return its polish and remove the metallic smell or taste that might otherwise be passed to food. Now we will see the secrets to take care of your Japanese knives like a true Japanese chef.
5 Basic care tips for your Japanese knives
1. Keep your knives sharpened
Did you know that cutting bread crust is really damaging to your straight knife’s edge? A blunt knife prevents working efficiently in the kitchen. Moreover, professionals agree that a blunt knife can cause accidents or muscle injuries in the long term.
According to Japanese philosophy, we should sharpen the knives every day after use to keep them in good operating condition. Use and sharpening are tradition and almost an obligation in Japan.
To sharpen a Japanese knife you need Japanese whetstones, that must previously have been submerged in water for 5 or 10 minutes before use, and must also be kept wet during the entire sharpening process. These stones stand out for their pores and are also very useful for sharpening western knives.
Japanese stones also require maintenance, since their flat surface, necessary for a correct sharpening, wears out and deforms over use. To fix this problem, you should rub the Japanese stone with a grinding stone, harder than sharpening stones.
To know more about Whetstones, visit our post Japanese whetstones.
2. Always use a cutting board
Never use a knife on marble, glass or porcelain surfaces. Our recommendation is that you use a bamboo, wood or plastic cutting board.
The use of cutting boards will keep the knives in good condition and will last longer.
3. Do not use the dishwasher
The dishwasher is the ultimate enemy of quality knives. When hitting other cutlery, they can deteriorate over time.
The best care is to wash and dry your knife with a soft cloth immediately after using it.
4. Store your knives properly
Forget about keeping all the knives in a drawer. It is important to avoid contact between blades, as the cutting edge can get damaged.
Our recommendation is to use individual sheaths for each knife.
5. Use the right knife for every task
Using an unsuitable knife is almost worse than using a blunt one. You must understand what each knife is used for and not use all the knives in all the posible situations.
For example, for cutting bread it is necessary to use the bread knife, which is usually serrated because the crust of the bread spoils even the sharpest knives. What’s more, cutting bread with a straight edge is extremely dangerous since it is easy for the blade to slip.
Many cooks do not buy a Japanese knife because they do not know how to take care of it. After reading this post, we recommend you to visit our section of Japanese knives and choose one for you.