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Lesson 8: Knife Sharpening

The Sushi Knife, also known as Yanagi. Yanagiba is a descriptor of the thin, graceful blade-style of this excellent sushi knife. Meaning Willow Leaf in Japanese, the Yanagiba is the essential Asian slicing knife for sushi with a one-sided grind that allows for the finest edge possible.

Sharpening Knives on Oil Stones

When sharpening Japanese sushi knives use 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.

How to sharpen your knives Correctly

For medium grain and superfine grain stones.

1. Place the oil stone on a kitchen towel or paper towel laid flat on a flat surface. Smear a thin layer of stone oil over the stone

2. With the 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.

3. 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. 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.

4. Repeat the same process for the other side of the blade. However if you have a Yanagi sushi knife with a bevel on one side and flat on the other side of the cutting edge of the blade, then the flat side needs a lot less sharpening. For every 5 or 10 strokes on the beveled side the flat side will only need one or two strokes 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.

5. After sharpening, the knives should be washed in water and dried completely with a soft towel.
The stone can be wiped with a clean rag or paper towel.

Sushi Knife Sharpening Tips

Oil the stone well before each use. .
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 stone, and never outside, (hanging over the stone).

Cleaning your Sashimi Knives

Keeping your 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 paper or cloth kitchen towels.

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