In the professional kitchen, even the most experienced chefs must be fully-trained in effective safety procedures. Given the huge variety of utensils, knives, flames, hot fats, slippery surfaces, and boiled water, the kitchen can be a dangerous place to work.
Even in the home, with less urgency and fewer risks, safety is no less important.
If you’re new to Japanese cooking, whether in a fast-paced restaurant or in your own home, you have to take care to stay as safe as possible. Here are 8 essential tips for chefs at all levels …
- Knives Must Stay Sharp
Keeping your Japanese knives sharp is a must. Why? A well-honed blade can slice through ingredients with a minimum of force, while blunt blades demand more effort – and the risk of injuring yourself is increased should you slip.
Check out the video below for a professional insight into sharpening knives.
- Keep Chopping Boards Secure
Chopping boards shouldn’t shift or slide. If they do, you’re in danger of slipping and cutting yourself.
Put a paper towel or thicker towel under the board, so it stays still on the worktop. Make sure you test it before you start chopping – if it moves, try adding another towel, or give the worktop surface another wipe to ensure it’s dry.
- Never Add Water to Hot Oil
Hot oil’s part and parcel of cooking, but you can injure yourself if you’re not as careful as you should be.
Never pour water, or any other fluid, into hot oil. This becomes steam straight away, and may well explode – sending oil in multiple directions.
Food should be dry or defrosted before being put in heated oil.
- Watch for Slippery Surfaces
Be careful when walking close to a pan containing hot oil, as it may have splattered across the floor without your noticing.
Should you spot this, clean it up as soon as possible, or make sure people are aware of the risk (essential in professional kitchens, but not necessarily a must if you’re cooking at home alone).
- Angle Knives Away from You
It’s easy to become distracted while preparing food, especially with endless ingredients to chop! Still, you should always try to be aware that you’re holding a dangerous instrument – one wrong move could be disastrous.
Always keep the blade angled away, and never toward yourself or the fingers of your other hand. You should also never walk with a blade facing toward you, or in any way it may pose a risk to others.
- Store Knives Safely
Professional Japanese kitchens use knives countless times each day, so washing them is obviously vital.
However, once washed, they should be stored properly to minimize risks. Never leave them in a knife filled with unclear water or in a dishwasher tray: if someone slips their hand in without realizing there’s a blade, they may injure themselves.
- Watch Those Hot Handles
In the professional and domestic kitchen, kitchen grips or over gloves should always be available. Inexperienced chefs or children in the home can easily go to lift pans or other hot utensils without realizing the danger.
- Back Off When Lifting Lids
When lifting the lid from a pot or pan of boiling water, take care to stay back. Steam will rise quickly, and can cause injuries – so never look directly inside without waiting for the steam to clear first.
The kitchen should be an exciting, fun, educational place to be, especially when cooking Japanese cuisine. Follow these safety tips to stay as secure as possible, at home or in the professional kitchen!