I’m absolutely no expert with whetstones but I will hazard a couple of comments. I feel he makes a bit of a meal of it but it is targeted at beginners so fair enough. Even when I first started I felt no need of using a marker pen (and yes I heard of using one) I found that so long as I was consistent it is very easy to see where I had been and where I hadn’t. If you look on the video I posted at 3:13 (early in the process) and at 8:13 (at the end) it is really easy to see where it is freshly ground and polished. Also It looked to me like this guy is at a fairly steep angle so his newly ground edge is much smaller than the Japanese guy’s one. That might be due to knife thickness but I don’t think so (the more expensive chef’s knife used by the Japanese chef is more likely to be a thinner not thicker blade). Finally most of the videos I’ve seen don’t bother to have a special stropping session at the end. In the video I posted he does a few stropping strokes in between grinding ones as he goes along. None of which says this guy is doing it wrong but to me it seemed a bit overdone.
Good video. Reasoned, methodical, and the approach leaves plenty of room for feeback as you go. As Mike says, it’s a little extreme and you may choose to cut back on things like the marker once you’re used to it.
I note he only uses ‘trailing strokes’ which is the opposite of me. He’s got a good explaination and I’ve got a couple knives on the list to do this week before Easter feasting so I’m going to give it a try and see how I get on.
In your OP you asked about going up a knife a bit at a time versus complete strokes. This is one area where I’ve done it both ways and I found it easier to get a complete edge by going a bit at a time. My knives don’t wear evenly, so by going a bit by bit I can spend more time on the duller areas as well as at the tip where the angle can be tricky. I do some full stropping strokes at the end like in your video for final alignment.
I have read this thread with interest. However, I thought a difference between Japanese knives and Western ones was that the blades of former were sharpened on one edge only while the Western ones were sharpened and both edges. Perhaps this difference is not important, or no longer current? I speak as a user of Victorinox knives
You do get a number of single beveled Japanese knives (with a cutting edge that looks like: |/, rather than the double beveled V shape), but the majority are double beveled. The main differences between western and Japanese knives tend to lay in the shape, thickness and forging process of the knives.
Thank you Antony: most helpful.
I am now looking for possible whetstones to sharpen my Victorinox knives. I see Nisbets have some stones for about £26.00 but I may go for something a bit more expensive.
Reporting back on the sharpening technique.
Consistency is definitely more important than choices like direction of stroke. I tried keeping the knife on the stone and applying pressure only on trailing strokes but it just ended in frustration since my muscle memory gave me a better edge with the cutting strokes I’ve used for years. I did find Chlebowski’s explanation on what is going on during sharpening in his video useful though and may even pick up the book he cites.
I’ve had my carbon steel knife maybe a year now and having experimented for a few months (and thanks to this thread) I’ve come to a routine that works. Every week or so I just do a quick few strokes on a whetstone to keep the edge - little and often. Today I did maybe 10 strokes each side on 3000 grit then little polishing circles at 8000 grit ending with a couple strops each side. Less than 5 minutes of effort and it cut through an underripe nectarine without me even feeling resistance.
Crikey. You’ve checked all your fingers are still present & correct?!
Did it come with any chainmail? I had a couple of wonderful weekends in New Orleans where oysters were shucked at speed, with a flourish to entice folk into some afternoon inbibing prior to the real party starting. A half dozen for a dollar (this was the 90’s) with a bloody mary made a good round. The chaps shucking all wore a chainmail gloves up to the elbow!
Jeepers - Using that I reckon you are more a danger to yourself than the oyster !
I think also its to do with the purpose of the knife ?
Japanese knives = Slicing = super sharp, long thin blade, lightweight, can be brittle but very hard steel.
Japanese cleavers = Chopping = short thick heavy blade, multi-purpose in skilled hands.
Western knives = Slicing AND Chopping = thicker and heavier build blade, more ductile steel so less brittle, not as sharp.
Western cleavers = Chopping only, a real brute.
So I guess it depends how you do your cooking? personally I don’t do a lot of chopping so use an ultra cheap Thai knife ‘Kiwi’ brand. VERY thin blade, very sharp. When it wears out I’m eyeing up GLOBAL knives.
Alas no chainmail. A dollar for six is impressive! Last time I was in NYC they had buck-a-shuck happy hours in a few places. I can’t even get an oyster for that in the fish mongers anymore! My locals cheapest are Menai and Carlingford at £1.20 a pop. Thankfully I couldn’t get out of work in time to get to any, so my fingers and wrists remain intact for today at least.
By coincidence I was looking at the J Sheeky menu today in anticipation of a trip into London next week. Half dozen Carlingford are on for £27 if it helps justify your local prices.
A few years ago I frequented Whitstable for a bit of fresh air and to escape docklands. Sunday’s could be spent slurping oysters from stalls around the harbour. Chatting to an elderly chap shucking away, looking for a few tips for home, he told me that they all sold imported Irish oyster as the local harvests were too valuable. Spoilt it a little.
Having studied in W.Yorkshire and had my eyes opened to it’s fine cuisine, Whitstable had the only southern chippie I knew of that cooked in beef dripping, many a day was topped with oysters and chips.
I look forward to hearing what you drink with the oysters when you get round to it.
@strawpig’s current top 5 favourite wines for oysters are:
- Muscadet (or folle blanche from Nantais area)
- Fino (en rama)
- Txakoli (getariako, the light fizzy one),
- Very dry riesling (new addition)
- Cheap, unoaked white Bordeaux
Given than I currently only have fino in the house from this list, it’s very likely to be that.
This is unfortunately pretty typical for central London, and at least having them in J Sheeky, you’re having them in J Sheeky.
Having grown up on Anglesey, I tend to opt for the Menai rather than the Carlingford. I’m not sure why, as I’ve been in the Menai Strait and it’s not the most pleasant stretch of water. I’ve been on a bit of a French oyster kick recently (mostly because I’ve been in France a lot recently) and I find the creamier, less briney ones there somehow both more and less satisfying.
I’ve been meaning to try these but haven’t got round to it. Anyone else tried them?
I’ve only ever had them in Brittany, where you can gather them off the rocks at low tide (in abundance if you know where) - but they kind of plaster themselves to the rocks & cannot be removed - so it’s a case of eating them there and then ! definitely make sure they are WELL away from habitation 'cos they haven’t been cleaned or purified.
I have to say, they taste of the sea. It’s the aftertaste which tastes ‘oystery’.
I know it’s the classic pairing, but I tend find Chablis either too complex or too meh for oysters usually.
Had them down at Porlock Weir (well i assume from them) earlier this year. I’m not an oyster expert - but they were v enjoyable in the sun with un petit verre