At Japanese Knife Company on Upplandsgatan in Stockholm you’ll find plenty of Japanese knives lined up in glass display cases, along with solid wooden cutting boards and black leather aprons with cognac brown details that hang on the brick walls. The shop sells sharpened knives to both individuals and restaurants.
“Of course we help you to find the right knife, but we also teach you how to take care of it,” says Niklas. In addition to knives, they also sell other products made of Japanese steel, such as jackknives, secateurs and scissors. The shop also helps their customers to send special tools, like nail clippers, to Japan for grinding.
Niklas and Pigge are childhood friends, and started Japanese Knife Company in Stockholm two years ago. As the second westerner in Japan, Pigge was certified in traditional knife sharpening 2012. Prior to that he had sold Japanese chef’s knives for seven years. During that time he met the Englishman Jay Patel, who spent nearly a decade learning to shape and sharpen knives in one of Japan’s top forges. Jay returned to London and sold knives by mail order before he opened three stores in London and two in Paris. Pigge and Niklas opened a store in Hammarby Sjöstad and in last spring they moved their business to Upplandsgatan.
The home chef is fine with three knives
– Niklas Ekelund –
On Upplandsgatan they also teach classes in sharpening technique. For two hours you’ll learn the technique, and then you can continue practicing at home. You either bring your own sharpening stone or use the store’s. When the stone is soaked, you pull the knife back and forth and strive to get the right angle.
The most common technique is to sharpen the same way on both sides, but you can also customize it for a right or left-handed person. With a sharpening stone you sharpen just as much over the whole blade, while the sharpening steel rather straightens up the edge. It is harder to get a precise angle with the sharpening steel since the area is so small, therefore it should only be used in emergency situations. Pigge recommends the home chef to sharpen his or her knives twice a year, but ideally once a quarter.
“But those who have attended the course usually like to sharpen every three weeks, so the blades never become dull,” says Pigge.
Of course we help you to find the right knife, but we also teach you how to take care of it
– Niklas Ekelund –
The only knives the shop doesn’t sharpen is the ceramic ones. The material you sharpen with must be harder than the knife, and therefore hard ceramic requires a diamond stone. Besides the ceramic knives the Japanese ones are the hardest. The reason is the high carbon addition. Carbon steel can be hardened more, which gives a longer and sharper edge that stays sharp much longer than the softer European knives.
Wood or plastic with high density is the best material to cut on. To preserve the sharpness of the knife, you should scrape the food off the cutting board with the knife’s top side, never with the edge. It is also important that the knives aren’t washed in the dishwasher, instead they should be cleaned under running water. When they are dry, don’t keep them in the same kitchen drawer, put them on a magnetic holder, a knife block or in their individual packages.
The home chef is fine with three knives, according to Niklas. A chef’s knife that is used as an all-purpose knife, a smaller paring knife and a knife used for chopping vegetables.
“You can also have a carving knife for meat and a filleting knife for fish,” Niklas adds quickly with the excuse that once you have replaced your knives you usually want more.
Sponsored article in collaboration with Japanese Knife Company.