Thursday, June 30, 2005

My experiences with kinfe sharpening

My father is a particularly fastidious man when it comes to the many kitchen knives we have at home. While the stereotypical middle-aged American man has an attraction to power tools, my father has a fondness for kitchen knives. Occasionally, he would browse the imported wares of an upmarket knife boutique, picking up various implements and admiring them. The knives at home are always kept very sharp.

Having grown up in a home with a kitchen of very sharp knives, I find blunt knives a major potong stim factor in any kitchen.

Over the last 2 years, as I’ve been living alone, I’ve refined my knife sharpening skills remarkably. Initially, I used the same strokes I have observed my father use. They produced acceptable, but not fantastic results. Over time, as I experimented with various sharpening strokes, I discovered various styles that suited my hand better. The cutting edges became sharper.

My current kitchen, small as it is, has three ceiling lights, making it a very well lit kitchen. Over the past six months, I learned to observe a knife under the light, picking up clues pertaining to the degree of sharpness and refinement of the final polish. The cutting edges continued getting sharper.

Occasionally, for the fun of it, I cut a few really thin slices of my food. A translucent slice of fish here or a vanishingly thin film of tomato there is satisfying confirmation that the job is done. On the other hand, a mangled edge on a kiwi suggests a return to the sharpening stone.

Today, the knife was a little blunt, and I decided to do a quick job just to keep myself happy for the meal’s preparation, after which I can do a proper sharpening. With a few quick strokes using what I hoped would suffice, it was done in less than a minute. An inspection under the lights revealed no flaws, and so I went back to the chopping board.

Cutting with a renewed edge always has a refreshing zing to it, a sort of startling smoothness of action. Slide the cutting edge along its victim, and it instantly bites into the surface.

To my utmost surprise, the knife was exceptionally sharp. It sliced thawed chicken fillet with an ease never seen before. In the end, I sliced the chicken into absurdly thin slices with an average thickness of 1.5mm. It appears I have stumbled upon a different approach to cutting edge polishing.

Spectecular. I then proceeded to slice the chilli into little red rings of a half millimetre thickness.

*potong stim- Busting a bubble (Malay), translated literally, “cutting steam”, cutting similar in context as seen in a “power cut”.