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Is this Chinese knife sufficient for chopping poultry?


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41 replies to this topic

#1 Hassouni

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 02:20 PM

So I'm making some roast duck on Thursday (unorthodox Sichuanese thanksgiving...), and I went out and bought a Chinese cleaver so I can chop it up on the bone. I asked the guy at the Chinese supermarket for a knife for that purpose, and this is what he gave me. Not really sure if it's up to it, it seems kind of light. Can someone please tell me what the package says? I don't read much Chinese, but I can see that cai (as in vegetable) is not on there, so maybe it's OK? Thanks!

IMG_5427.JPG

#2 Dejah

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 02:43 PM

I can't read Chinese, but it looks much like the one I have. If it's light, I wouldn't use it on a drumstick or thigh bone. I had only used it on vegetables until my s-i-l tried to chop through the drumstick and put 2 "bends" in the blade:-(
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#3 rotuts

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 02:49 PM

I have a 'set' of these stainless steel kinves. not really a set, but purchased one by one in Chinatown

they generally have a number on them that relates to size. I routinely use a # 3 to chop turkey bones etc. have not used it on beef.

I use a mallet that has a harder and softer side to do this with reasonable accuracy.

I note you have a #2. maybe wait and get a # 3 or even # 4

if honed razor sharp these are knives that have a decent place in the kitchen.

#4 Darienne

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 03:19 PM

That is so interesting. Just got my DH's cleaver for chopping the dogs' dinners out of the drawer and it's a #3. Made in Hong Kong. It's stood up very well.
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#5 Edward J

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 03:30 PM

I really squirm when I hear the word "Chop" used with cooking. For me, chopping is for firewood.

I can cut up a chicken with a paring knife if I have too, usually I just use a regular Chef's knife. A cleaver will work fantasically.

All you need to do is find the "sweet spot", where the bones join and get the knife in the cartlidge (sp?), It's like cuting through a mushroom, and you get a clean cut.

If you chop down in the middle of a bone, say a leg bone, you are guaranteed to get bone splitters in the meat.

For most poultry you would:

-Run a knife down both sides of the breast bone following it's contours, then around the wishbone, cut through each shoulder joint and gently remove each breast intact with the wing. You can cut through the breast no problem as there is no bone.

-Run a knife around the thigh, gently pull to remove the hip joint, cut through the cartlidge (sp?) and remove the whole leg. Cut through the thigh/knee joint again.

Hope this helps........

#6 rotuts

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 03:35 PM

Id look for as many # of these as you can find. they are cheap, easy to sharpen and do a lot of useful work in the kitchen.

keep them sharp and in a wooden block. use a mallet for the 'chopping' rather than a wack:

Cleaver Mallet.jpg

note the 'damage' the mallet did to the non cutting 'top' its the surface just above the mallet.

So what? 10 bucks and ive used it for 20 years.

#7 rotuts

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 03:36 PM

I use the system above to Chop off the ends of turkey legs about 2 inches from the end.

no other way to do this unless you have a food safe band saw.

good luck cleaning that!

Edited by rotuts, 20 November 2012 - 03:38 PM.


#8 Darienne

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 03:43 PM

I really squirm when I hear the word "Chop" used with cooking. For me, chopping is for firewood.

Our dogs get raw chicken thighs and legs and Ed does chop the pieces into smaller pieces for them. Dogs can digest raw bones. Just not cooked bones. I'll tell him about using a mallet, but he likes the heavy chopping thing. :raz: I suspect he would feel the mallet would slow him down.
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#9 liuzhou

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 08:49 PM

The Chinese just repeats the English.

I would have gone for a heavier one, but as with all knives it depends on what you feel comfortable with.

#10 Keith_W

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 09:52 PM

The Chinese just repeats the English.


Awww, you spoilt the fun! I was going to tell him that it was a "human sacrifice knife for devil festival" or something along those lines :)

Edward - Chinese cleavers are designed for chopping. If you have ever been to a Chinese BBQ restaurant, you will see they literally chop through the bones of all the BBQ'ed meats. If the knife is sharp and the chef is skilled, there will be no splinters.
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#11 Edward J

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 10:32 PM

Ehhhh....NO!

I've lived long enough in S'pore and worked there long enough to know that Hiananese chicken rice always contains bone fragments, as does roast duck, and Char siew shouldn't have any bone to it.

You shouldn't have to cut across bones, as they will always splinter--they are hollow and filled with marrow, so you will never get a clean cut unless you use a saw.

Nature has given us a way to portion meat without getting bone fragments mixed in: Cut bones where they join, and you'll always have a clean cut.

Like I said, I squirm when I hear "chopping". After close to 30 years working in kitchens all around the world, I can tell you that the closer the knife (or cleaver) is to the cutting board, the more control you have over it. When you "chop", your knife is much higher, and you have much less control of where it lands --or how it lands.

#12 dcarch

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 10:32 PM

A Chinese cleaver will do all kinds of cutting, chopping and slicing.

It can crash garlic,

it can scoop up stuff from your cutting board.

Use the handle end and a cup and you have a pestle and mortar.

With two cleavers, one in each hand, you can chop meat faster than any food proccessor.

The only thing it cannot do is what a paring knife can do.


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#13 radtek

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 10:39 PM

So when you "chop" which region along the edge should be used? I'm assuming 1/3 of the way down from the end of the cleaver.

#14 liuzhou

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 11:07 PM

The only thing it cannot do is what a paring knife can do.


Are you sure about that? I've seen people do it often.

#15 mrsadm

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 07:14 AM

"Chopping" poultry? Ugh.

If you want to serve slices, then take the breasts off the bone and slice.

If you want bits of poultry for a recipe, I recommended shredding, not chopping. Texture is so much better when shredded.

And I recommend a German boning knife for getting the meat off the carcass. That knife in your photo looks horrible. But then again, I don't know anything about how the Chinese cook poultry.
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#16 Hassouni

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 09:40 AM

The Chinese cut poultry through the bone, such that each piece includes bone. Chopping is exactly what's done

As seen here:

Edited by Hassouni, 21 November 2012 - 09:41 AM.


#17 Edward J

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 10:01 AM

Yup, typical method used at "hawker centers" and on the street.
When you chop through the rib cage, you will get bone fragments..
When you chop through wing bones or leg bones you will get fragments. Bird's bones are purposely hollow,and when you put pressure on a hollow bone it will not cut cleanly, you will get fragmetns

Look at the chopping block, it's littered with bones and bone fragments.

#18 radtek

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 10:34 AM

That is an awesome video! However it is really hard to tell if those are "fragments" of bone or just little shreds of meat.

#19 rotuts

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 10:42 AM

thats at least a #4 or more!

#20 Hassouni

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 02:53 PM

Well at the Viet store today I bought a gigantic cleaver specifically labeled as "bone-chopping" - it's heavy as hell. Think I'll return the other one.

#21 Dejah

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 03:10 PM

One of the joys of eating chicken, duck Chinese style is the way it's "chopped" into pieces WITH bone.

Char siu never has bones. Siu yook (crispy pork - suckling pig, whole roasted pig) can have bones but I've never experienced splinters.

Whether or not there are splinters, I think depends on the weight of the cleaver, how sharp it is, and how skillful the cook is.

Looking at the video, that's exactly how my BBQ shop chops ducks and chickens. What is usually left on the block are fragments of meat.

Hassouni: Looks like you're going to be fine "chopping"... :wink:
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#22 rotuts

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 03:50 PM

Oooooooooo, Oooooooooooo. good for you H.

consider posting pics next to the cleaver you already have!

#23 Edward J

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 04:16 PM

Sigh..............

I'll explain it again.

Poultry has hollow bones, when you exert force on them they crack and fracture--just like an egg. Doesn't matter if you exert force with a sharp object or not, they will fracture The only two ways to cleanly cut poultry bones is with either a saw or cutting in between the joints.

Bone fragments inbetween your teeth is a nuisance.

Bone fragments inbetween your teeth and gums is very uncomfortable,

Bone fragments down your throat is dangerous.

I've experienced all three during my time in S'pore, and with the many vendors here in Vancouver.

Thank you

#24 liuzhou

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Posted 22 November 2012 - 12:38 AM

But then again, I don't know anything about how the Chinese cook poultry.


Chinese chicken is nearly always cooked and served on the bone, as are most poultry and fish. They taste better that way.

And poultry is chopped. I've have no recollection of ever encountering bone shards or "fragments" (whatever that means) in any of the literally thousands of chicken or duck dishes I have eaten over the years.

Edited by liuzhou, 22 November 2012 - 01:07 AM.


#25 Keith_W

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Posted 22 November 2012 - 04:31 AM

Don't bother, Edward. There might be a few hundred thousand Chinese BBQ chefs around the world. You are not going to persuade them to use a saw to cut their poultry.
There is no love more sincere than the love of food - George Bernard Shaw

#26 Edward J

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Posted 22 November 2012 - 12:34 PM

You don't have to.

You just have to cut in between the joints.

#27 radtek

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Posted 22 November 2012 - 08:28 PM

But they don't want whole jointed pieces of chicken. They want pieces easily manipulated by chopsticks. Chop Chop.

#28 dcarch

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Posted 22 November 2012 - 09:54 PM

I have never had problems with bone framents.

I have never heard anyone else (When I was in the Far East) had problems with bone fragments.

dcarch

May be off topic:

I saw this sign in a supermarket, which I thought was crazy:

"disclaimer - The unpitted olivers have stones, please be careful eating them"

Edited by dcarch, 22 November 2012 - 09:57 PM.


#29 liuzhou

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Posted 23 November 2012 - 02:57 AM

You don't have to.

You just have to cut in between the joints.


Yes, if you want to do western style poultry butchery. Chinese butchery is totally different.

Apart from the hundreds of thousands of Chinese BBQ chefs, there are the there are hundreds of thousands of other chefs, millions of market poultry vendors, hundreds of millions of home cooks all happily chopping poultry with their cleavers. As they have been doing for thousands of years.

As has been pointed out, in 99% of Chinese cuisine, the poultry is chopped on the bone into bite-sized pieces suitable for chopsticks, not western style chicken joints.

As for chicken breast fillets, or boned thighs, the average housewife would think you were crazy to throw away the best part. Deboned chicken breasts are sometimes available in some supermarkets, but I've never seen any other part of the bird without its bones.

And I repeat, I have never come across bone slivers, dangerous or otherwise in any Chinese poultry dish, and I've been eating them for longer than I wish to think about.

Edited by liuzhou, 23 November 2012 - 03:25 AM.


#30 Dejah

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Posted 23 November 2012 - 05:15 AM

Hassouni: Hope you survived your Thanksgiving Sechuan duck with all fingers intact... :smile:

Back to the topic of western vs. Chinese style serving of poultry and chopping:

When I had my restaurant, which had been in the family for 35 years, we DID dissect chickens ourselves, using a cleaver, for boneless chicken for various items for Canadian customers. We did have chicken wings, drumsticks, jointed, not chopped.

However, we served chicken, duck, ribs, chopped thru' the bone with cleavers on dishes ordered by Chinese patrons or Canadians "in the know". :smile: Never had any problems. My chefs didn't seem to need to raise their meat cleavers high up off the huge wooden chopping block.

Liuzhou: You and I must be very old: "eating them for longer than I wish to think about.". I think Chinese children learn to eat meat on the bone from the time they can distinguish bone from meat. I know my Canadian-born halfers expect bone-in chicken at the table.

I was glad to be reminded that the number on a cleaver is important. It's been such a long time since I've had to buy one, but I now remember checking for the higher numbers, and clinking one against another for the "good knife" tone.. :wink: I miss the vegetable-specific one I used to have. It was 2-toned. The blade was thinner and sliced thru' bok choi stalks so beautifully...light, sharp...

Edited by Dejah, 23 November 2012 - 05:19 AM.

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