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Knife Skills

How do I upgrade my knife skills and release my inner chef to fully enjoy my new Japanese chefs knife?

Step one is setting up a safe, clutter free prep area. Buy a good wooden cutting board of 12 inches by 16 or bigger if you have the space. Maple end grain or Japanese Hinoki wood are best. Make sure your board does not slip on yourcounter top. If it does place it on a damp towel to prevent any movement. Organize your ingredients on the left side if you are right handed or the opposite if you are left handed,. Have several empty bowls positioned for your prepped ingredients and a larger bowl at your cutting station for scraps. A bench scraper is also a very useful tool to include at your prep station. Make sure you have excellent lighting and closed toe shoes. Ensure that the floor is not wet or slippery and is free of obstacles. Feet comfortably apart in a secure stance and you are ready to cut.

Step Two is learn to use the Pinch grip and the Claw if you do not already know them. The pinch grip gives superior control on the blade and the claw protects the fingers of your other hand while cutting. Safety and precision is greatly enhanced by the proper use of the pinch grip and the claw. The pinch grip looks much as it sounds. If you are right handed, place your right thumb onto the left side of the blade, just beyond the bolster.

Place the right index finger flat on the right side of the blade with the finger curled back, effectively pinching the blade. Your middle, ring and baby fingers are curled comfortably around the handle, braced against the heel of your blade. This is the pinch grip. This grip may seem awkward and and uncomfortable at first but, with practice, it will become second nature. Your cuts will be straighter and safer, with less fatigue.

The claw is the technique most pros use to grip the food and protect their fingers while cutting. It is the secret to achieving higher speed cutting, in combination with the pinch grip you have just learned. The claw is simply curling the fingertips under so that your middle knuckles are parallel and act as a guide to the knife blade. You are simultaneously gripping the food in a secure fashion and keeping your fingertips out of harms way. The claw can be expanded for large vegetables and made very small for cutting smaller vegetables. Your thumb serves as a brace to help guide smaller items forward toward the knife. As you slice you slowly glide your fingertips backwards over the vegetable and use your thumb to anchor or assist. Like the pinch grip, the claw will take a little practice. Mastering both together is well worth the effort as your kitchen prep will become more enjoyable, faster and your food will be more uniform and attractive.

Hint: Practice these 2 techniques on your cutting board with your knife secured in a strong, protective sheath and your food hand in the medium claw position. Practice you slicing motion and gliding you fingertips slowly back from the knife until you get the feel of using your knuckles as a knife guide.

Step Three is mastering the cuts. Stabilizing, Slicing, Sticks, Cubes and variations.

Other Safety precautions: Your new knife is an exceptionally sharp cutting tool. These are not your Momma's knives. Never cut through bones just alongside them. Your knife edge is extremely hard and thin to give you true performance. Because of these attributes you could chip or break the knife blade prying apart frozen food or cutting bones. Use a cleaver or your momma's old heavy duty knife for cutting through bones.

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Shogun Knife Company.,
440 Laurier Ave W Suite 200
Ottawa ON Canada K1R 7X6
Tel: 613.786.1000
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