Since Sushi Chefs use knives when they prep and when they work at the Sushi bar, they have more chance of slicing their fingers compared to chefs from other cuisines. The upside of this is that Sushi chefs have less chance of getting burnt from 425-degree oven, spill from frying oil and, boiling water, being flamed by the high-calorie burner, and getting your fingers slammed in the over door.
How do Sushi Chefs fix their finger cuts at the Sushi Bar? A quick and temporal relief is to wrap the wound with a paper towel and plastic wrap, tightly covered with heavy medical tape. Since we keep our hands wet all the time (because we touch rice with our hands), simple Band-Aid almost never work. Plastic Surgical Gloves are always available but unless you stop the bleeding, the inside of the glove quickly becomes flooded with blood and it makes the wound looks worse than it actually is, Besides, who want to eat sushi made by a chef with blood inside of his plastic glove?
A chef whom I worked with showed me the quickest way to stop bleeding: sprinkle some salt on the wound and let the blood crystallize. The salt soaks up the blood, quickly turning red, it starts to look something like Red-Syrupped Hawaiian Shaved Ice on your finger. I was skeptical first, and then within seconds, the salt hardened and quickly sealed the wound. It worked amazingly like magic. It did not hurt that much either. Salting on the cut is especially effective on large cuts, when a large amount of blood is splashing from your finger, though, I do hope that will never happen to you. After it stops bleeding, all you need to do is to use “liquid bandage” or “liquid skin” to seal off the cut. Liquid bandage is basically, or exactly a liquid cement for plastic models (though that is my guess because they smell the same), except, it has antiseptic agent dissolved in it. Apply the liquid bandage several times and let it dry out completely and you are ready to go.
During my career, I’ve cut my fingers many times. The first time was on my first day and ever since, I have done it so many times that honestly, I have no idea how many times I’ve cut my fingers. I can tell you it feels awful every time I do it. You would think that slicing your finger with Sashimi knife hurts really bad and the fact is that most of the time, it never did. The Sashimi Knife is so sharp that the cut is very clean. However, there were times that it hurt, like when I cut my thumb half way. It feels like knife cuts always happened when I was talking to others and lost my concentration, as I cut the fish, roll and vegetables. I suppose our brain is not wired to perform two tasks at the same time, or maybe it’s just my brain. The deep cut on my thumb happened on a moderately busy Friday night, as I cut California Roll. I was talking to Toshi and Kai as I thought I cut the roll, when the knife cut through my thumb instead of the roll. Blood immediately came out from the nail and I saw the thin line half way through my fingernail. Then, I knew I made a serious mistake, as I saw the stream of blood running out from the wound, making a small pond of blood on the cutting board. I lifted up my left hand and move it close to my face to examine the damage as I told Toshi that I cut my finger. He looked at it and realized how severe the wound was and told me to go back kitchen to take care of it immediately. I wrapped my thumb with a paper towel and quickly rushed to the back kitchen and asked Alejandro to bring out the first aid kit. Suddenly, I started to feel the pain on my thumb and that was when I began to worry a bit because that was an indication of a deep cut. I lifted up the paper towel and examined my thumb, which was still bleeding hard. I thought it was not going to stop bleeding for a while. I grabbed the fresh paper towel and wrapped my thumb tight, applying firm pressure. There was nothing I could do except to stand there in the kitchen, hoping the bleeding will stop soon, but I knew, that was not going to happen anytime soon. One sushi chef down at the sushi bar on busy Friday night and Toshi and Kai had to move their hands faster to spit out their orders. I felt dreadful. After five minutes, I lifted up the blood-soaked-red paper towel to see the bleeding condition and was slowing down, so took out the fresh white bandage from the first aid kit, cut it into a small piece and wrapped my thumb several times and sealed with the white medical tape. I then put finger rubber condom to keep it dry and also grabbed extra bandage, Band-Aid and walked back to the Sushi bar.
“How are you doing?” Toshi asked.
“It’s deep and still bleeding. I put some bandages and wrapped tight with the tape. I will be OK for now,” I replied.
“OK, make sure you take care of it well.”
“I know,” I said.
Luckily, no one at the sushi bar noticed, but nothing is more embarrassing to cut your finger right in front of your customers. It’s not only shocking to me, but it’s more shocking to those who watch. Three ladies, who were sitting at the sushi bar and held their breath when they saw me, unexpectedly cut my finger. Splash of blood spread on the white cutting board. One of them said, “Oh my god, are you OK?” Embarrassingly I replied, “Yes, I think so. I’m really sorry about that.”