What is a Japanese Knife
Japanese knives date back to 718 A.D. and are among some of the most diverse in the world. The most popular kitchen knives are deba bocho, used for fish filleting, and santoku, which is an all purpose utility knife that has achieved worldwide recognition. Japanese knives are high-quality in design and material, as well as production techniques. A combination of traditional hand tools and modern machinery are used to make a wide variety of Japanese knives with stain-resistant, carbon steel blades. The steel is often treated with heat which results in higher levels of hardness compared to western knives. The knives are also frequently forged instead of stamped which makes them lighter.
These knives are frequently sharpened so that one side holds a cutting edge. This process is also called single ground. Some Japanese knives are angled from one side with the other side being flat, and some are angled from both sides. The belief behind the one sided blade angle is that it makes a cleaner cut and cuts better, although it takes more skill to use than a double bevel edge knife. Mostly, the right hand side of the blade is angled because most people are right handed. The average Japanese chef right-handed knife ratio is 70 to 30 and 90 to 10 for sushi knives. Left-handed models are usually specially made. The back side of Japanese knives are frequently concave which lessens adhesion and drag. This enables food to be separated cleanly.
Best Knife Sharpener for Japanese Knives: Shun DM0610 Classic 3-Piece Whetstone Sharpening System Review
Bestsmallkitchenappliances.com‘s recommended best Japanese knives sharpening system is the Shun DM0610 Classic 3-Piece Whetstone system. It has a lovely bamboo stand that is set at a 16 degree angle, so you don’t have to try and figure out the angle while sharpening. The stand also holds a two-sided whetstone and honing steel that are included with the system. It is a very attractive piece for just about any kitchen décor. The whetstone is dual grit and features a 1000 grit sanding block on one side, and a 6000 grit on the other side. The 1000 grit is used for sharpening, and the 6000 grit is used of polishing and perfecting the blade’s edge. The honing steel will help you maintain your edge between sharpenings. The honing steel can also be used while still on the stand.
What other Customers Say about Shun DM0610
Most Amazon customers were pleased with this product and thought it was a nice system to have. One customer pointed out that it is actually a four piece system because it includes a rectangular molded rubber that fits around the whetstone so it will not slide. Customers liked the 16 degree angle blade, and the consensus was that the system is the best for Japanese knives of any brand, including Shun or Global.
How to Sharpen Japanese Knives
The best way to sharpen Japanese knives is with a water stone. The three kinds of whetstones are Arato which is a rough stone. It is good for fixing broken tips, repairing chips, and creating an angle for a sharp blade. The second type of stone is Nakato and this is labeled a medium rough stone which makes a more defined sharpness. The third stone is called Siageto which is slightly rough. This is good for putting a sharp finish on the blade.
Before you start the sharpening process, soak the whetstones in water for approximately 10 minutes. This takes away any air on the inside of the stone. Little bubbles will emerge during this process. Once the bubbles stop, the stone is ready for sharpening. Keep a towel handy to keep the whetstones from becoming slippery. The Arato stone should be used if your knife is very dull and has not been sharpened in some time. If you maintain your knives and sharpening regularly then you can start with the Nakato stone.
Use your first three fingers and lightly push the tip of the blade until it reaches the far side of the stone. Swipe it back and forth from the tip to the heel, approximately four or five times, until you feel a burr. A burr is an indication that the blade is sharp enough. While you are sharpening keep a height of about 10 or 15 inches between the blade and the stone. When you finish sharpening on one side of your blade, turn it over and repeat the same process. Rewet the stone if it becomes dry during this process. After both sides are sharpened, swipe the blade across the Siageto stone from the tip to the heel about five times on each side for a polished finish.