10 must do Japanese knife Care Instructions-

First things first.
There are two main types of steels used in Japanese knives:
Carbon steel and stainless steel.
Most care instructions apply to both steel types.

1) Wash your knife dammit!

After you are done using your knife,
Wipe down your knife with hot soapy water
using a Chux or green scourer sponge (do not use steel wool).
Then finish by paper towel drying.
It is really that simple.

Clean knife + no water= No rust 😊

*If you are a chef, you should be doing this not just at the end of the day, but in between jobs.
As a chef who has managed many kitchens there is nothing scarier (or embarrassing) than asking a fellow chef about an allergy for a customer/order and replying them with: “I don’t think so” or “I’m not sure”
Ok, so I’ll just tell the customer with a anaphylactic allergy reaction to garlic “I don’t think so”???
…….just wipe down your knives before someone gets angry…..or worse gets hurt.

2) Dishwasher= bad

The chemicals are very corrosive for the steel and excessive heat will loosen handles.
Stainless steel means stain-less, not stain proof.

3) Hard stuff. 

One of the many things that makes Japanese knives perform so well is their thinness.
Thin knives create very little resistance.
Little resistance pushes through food. (We’ll talk about edge geometry another time.)
Another thing is hardness.
Japanese knives are tempered, or heat treated and tend to be a lot harder steel.
This helps hold that stupid sharp edge for a long time!
When you combine both these characteristics you get a knife that performs with ease, but the trade-off is durability.
Or the analogy I like to use is: You can rip a piece of paper but not a phone book.
What does this mean? This means you can’t cut through bones, Frozen foods, or anything overly hard.
Your knife has limitations.
Which leads me to my next point……….

4) The Karate Kid 

Listen here Daniel San.
That beautifully crafted Japanese knife you just bought isn’t for material arts.
No swinging, bashing, or smashing.
A smooth cutting motion is best.

5) I’m dense. 

Parmesan cheese? No
Pumpkin? Not advised (and definitely avoid the woody tops)
For parmesan, pumpkin and other dense items please use a cheap knife or a knife with a thick spine.
Remember that super thin edge we just read about?
Do not TWIST or BEND the blade when cutting, your knife is not a can opener or a hammer.

6) “Oils aint oils”

If your knife isn’t used for long periods use knife oil to help prevent corrosion. (Yes, that includes some stainless steels).
Use Tsubaki Oil or a non-rancid, food grade oil…………. not olive oil

7) Stay sharp

Sharpening should be done with whetstones.
There just is no substitute for whetstone.
(We’ll talk about whetstone and sharpening another time)
Pull through sharpeners ruin knives. A waste of time and money.

Shameless plug: The Blade Runner offers a sharpening service.

8) The problem with coarse steels

Use fine grit steels and/or ceramic steels.
These steels don’t have harsh metal removal and help to realign the edge.

I must see at least 1-2 damaged knives a week due to a coarse steel.
Coarse steels shave years off your knife and make weird profiles on knives that once had beautiful curvature.
In some extreme cases I see knives with bows where the knife no longer has contact with the chopping boards.
Think of it like this:

Using a steel is like brushing your hair, it only does so much……… eventually you’ll need a haircut. (Whetstone sharpening)

9) Storage: Keep it safe. Keep it secret.

If you throw your knife in your utensils drawer along with other knives, tongs, and metal spoons it will go dull very quickly. I don’t care if a knife is made by NASA, it’ll be blunt in no time.
I recommend a saya, (wooden sheaths) wood blocks or a magnetic strip.

* Chefs: I don’t recommend magnetic strips at work.
Not only do they regularly get knocked off the strip by other careless chefs and co-workers but leaving your knives display for others is a temptation to use without an invitation. Pack them away.
“Keep them safe. Keep it secret.”
-Some silly hobbit😊

10) Chopping boards- Wood is good.

Wooden boards are best. End grain is better!
Bamboo is worse than plastic.
Use hard plastic boards if you must.

I hygiene reasons only use plastic for things like chicken. Wood all the way!

* Chefs: You can’t avoid plastic. It’s a health requirement. It kinda sucks.
On the bright side: Your tools (knives) are tax deductable and so is sharpening.
Both whetstones and sharpening services are tax deductable so don’t be afraid to use these options………just ask for a receipt and keep it for tax time.

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1 comment

Hi. I’m wanting to buy my son a decent pair of Japanese knives and sheaths (of some sort) for general home kitchen use.
This comes after having to sharpen his knives at Christmas Day lunch so he could cut anything at all.
I like the depth of your experience that comes through on your web page.
What would you recommend from your range.
Gary Stowe.

Gary Stowe

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