For the ultimate all-purpose cutting utensil, nothing beats the Chinese cleaver so the answer is a resounding yes, buy one – it’s a piece of kitchen equipment that will earn its keep and last forever.
– Every part of a Chinese cleaver can be used. The sharp cutting edge is excellent for cutting and slicing while the blunt edge and the sheer heft of the cleaver makes it ideal for pounding and tenderising meat. Turn the cleaver on its side and you’ll find the flat blade is very effective at smashing garlic and ginger (or use it to peel ginger which is one of the first thing that Chinese chefs are taught to do).
– A cleaver can also be used to transport food from cutting board to cooking pot or wok. The flat end of the handle also substitutes for a pestle to grind spices and pepper.
– We use a cleaver to chop through pork ribs to make one or two inch pieces for our stir-fried pork (we probably shouldn’t say this but we also use it to chop dog dental bones in half – when you leave them out of the bag for any time they become too hard to break with your hands!).
– Traditional cleavers are made from carbon steel and are susceptible to rust (if you have one make sure to clean it, dry it well and oil it before putting it in the drawer). Today even Chinese chefs recommend stainless steel varieties or cleavers made from a combination of carbon and stainless steel.
– When choosing a cleaver choose one that feels comfortable in your hand while feeling solid though not overly heavy.
– A cleaver is excellent for cutting the ribs from a pepper. Cut the top and bottom off the pepper, use the blade to flatten the pepper into a long rectangle, slice off the ribs and cut into squares or strips. Here’s a gréatfood video demonstrating the technique.
– Always keep a cleaver in a safe place set into a knife slot in a drawer.
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