How To Sharpen Your Knives Like Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto - Exclusive

A professional chef knows their knives are a necessary tool for making memorable meals with precision. It should come as no surprise that Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto names them as his favorite kitchen tool. In an exclusive interview with Mashed, Morimoto explained: "Japanese knives are the perfect weapon for an Iron Chef." He continued, "there is so much versatility when using a good, sharp knife." 

Not only is a sharp knife helpful, but Mediocre Chef explains a dull blade can slip or require using more force, which can be quite dangerous. A well-sharpened knife won't slide off a slick tomato or bruise herbs. You don't have to enter a kitchen stadium to benefit from a solid knife, either. Buying a good set of knives — or a single trusty blade — can elevate any home chef's technique. Keeping this valuable tool sharp enough to slice with ease can be the intimidating part. 

Morimoto doesn't see the step of sharpening as an option. "It is essential to keep them in top shape and always sharpen them regularly," he said. Fortunately, this Iron Chef recommends using another tool — a whetstone. If you haven't used this classic sharpening tool, then taking a bit of time to understand how they work is important. Fortunately, the process gets easier with practice.

Chef Morimoto's recommendations for sharpening knives

The first step in sharpening a knife like a pro is selecting your whetstone. Mediocre Chef says a double-sided whetstone with a finer 6,000 grit on one side and coarser 1,000 grit on the other is a great place to start. The site also recommends a bowl of water, a towel to wipe off the blade, and finding a space with lots of light. You'll need to place the stone in water to soak fully, then wet the stone with a few drops to maintain a "slurry" of grit and water from the stone. This grit is what sharpens the blade. The site recommends starting with the 1,000-grit whetstone, with a holder to keep it in place, and angling the knife at around a 22-degree angle.

Munchies advises working in one-inch sections by sweeping the blade across the stone in slow, long strokes moving toward you. Gently place your fingers at the tip of the blade to apply constant pressure as you pull the blade back, then release pressure to move it forward to the far end of the stone. The press-and-release technique is another reason why you should move slowly at first.

"I recommend sharpening one side six to eight times before switching to the other side of the blade," chef Morimoto said. 

Smoothing out your knife blade

As one of the world's most premier chefs, we'll take Morimoto's word for it. Once you've sharpened each side in small sections, Munchies says you should feel a little edge at the end of the blade — never move your fingers laterally across the edge or you'll cut yourself. This is a "burr" on the blade, Mediocre Chef reports, which is a "slightly rough patch" at the end of each section or at the tip of the blade. So, they recommend flipping over the whetstone to the 6,000 grit side to repeat this process one more time to smooth out the burr. As Morimoto suggests, knife sharpening is something that should be done regularly for the best results.

If you want even more advice from chef Morimoto, you can catch him on this season of "MasterChef: Legends." You can also sample the renowned chef's cuisine at one of his restaurants (the newest Momosan Ramen location is in Miami) or sip his single-malt whiskey made in collaboration with Rogue Spirits.