All chefs put a premium on keeping their knives as sharp as possible, but few rely on their fine edges as thoroughly as sushi chefs. Their training with knives is extensive -- usually lasting years -- and a significant part of that training is in how to properly sharpen a knife. Nobu Matsuhisa, the world-famous restaurant owner and sushi chef, shares some of his sharpening techniques with Martha.
Nobu's basic kitchen knives include butchering, vegetable-slicing, and fish-slicing knives, which he sharpens on three different stones of varying coarseness: a very coarse stone for smoothing out nicks and dents; a medium-grade stone to do most of the actual sharpening; and an almost smooth stone that polishes and adds the finishing edge. Japanese knives are usually sharpened only on one side so that they will cut more cleanly. Nobu hones the edges by sliding one side of the blade across the wet stone one hundred times, and the other side only ten times.
With his knives at peak sharpness, Nobu can use them to whittle a cucumber into paper-thin sheets, a technique that's performed by holding the blade parallel to the cucumber and moving it back and forth in a sawing motion while rotating the cucumber with the other hand. Nobu can also use the extraordinarily sharp blade to slice the scales off a fish rather than scraping and, with an initial slice along the fish's backbone, maneuver the knife along the upper edge of the fish's ribcage until the fillet comes away with virtually no meat left on the bones.
Learn more about Nobu Matsuhisa's Nobu Restaurants.