Of late, my knife fetish has progressed to the kitchen. I like sushi and sashimi, which I assume most of my readers know is raw fish. The best fish for sushi and sashimi are tuna and salmon, though I’ve had fluke, mackerel, octopus, and a few others — dipped in a mixture of soy sauce and wasabi, sushi is a culinary delight. You can also try Crudo, an Italian version of sushi; substitute the soy sauce and wasabi with a mixture of lemon juice, olive oil, and seasonings. What does all of this have to do with knives? A lot!
Preparing fish for sushi requires that the fish be sliced wafer-thin, which requires a very sharp knife with a long blade. Remember what I said about filleting fish with long sweeping slices and that short cuts will only show ugly hack marks on the fillet. This is doubly important when slicing fish for sushi. For years, I used my fillet knives for preparing sushi until I discovered the unique world of Japanese knives. And the various designs.
I picked the Yanagiba knife — a 10.5 inch High Carbon Japanese Steel blade. Kyoku makes it, and I paid $48 for the knife. It arrived razor-sharp, and I use it for nothing else except slicing raw fish for sushi and sashimi. I’m convinced that the easiest way to dull a sharp knife is to use it to chop food on a glass cutting board. My advice is don’t chop when you can slice and only use a wood cutting board. Yes, I know wood holds bacteria. So take the time to wash the wood board thoroughly.
Even the best knives will eventually get dull. It’s easy to put a razor edge on carbon steel with a whetstone. A good whetstone will last a lifetime with some care. Never use it dry. After you sharpen your knife, apply more oil and wipe it clean. Oil floats steel particles about the surface, so they will not clog the stone. Use a Washita stone. It is essential that you maintain the same-degree angle between the back of the blade as you draw the blade across the stone as if you were taking a slice off the top. If you find this difficult, buy one of the knife sharpening devices available today. They will do the job for you.
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