Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Is this Chinese knife sufficient for chopping poultry?

Recommended Posts

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!


Link to post
Share on other sites

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:-(



Link to post
Share on other sites

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.

Link to post
Share on other sites

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........

Link to post
Share on other sites

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.

Link to post
Share on other sites

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 (log)
Link to post
Share on other sites

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.



learn, learn, learn...


Life in the Meadows and Rivers

Cheers & Chocolates

Link to post
Share on other sites

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.

There is no love more sincere than the love of food - George Bernard Shaw
Link to post
Share on other sites


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.

Link to post
Share on other sites

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.


Link to post
Share on other sites

"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.


"Did you see what Julia Child did to that chicken?" ... Howard Borden on "Bob Newhart"


Link to post
Share on other sites

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 (log)
Link to post
Share on other sites

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.

Link to post
Share on other sites

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.

Link to post
Share on other sites

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:



Link to post
Share on other sites


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

Link to post
Share on other sites
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 (log)

...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.


The Kitchen Scale Manifesto

Link to post
Share on other sites

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
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Similar Content

    • By liuzhou
      I've recently become aware of the existence of this chain of Xi'an restaurants in NewYork. Are there more elsewhere?
      They were recenty referenced in a BBC article about biang biang noodles.
    • By liuzhou
      Following my posting a supermarket bought roast rabbit in the Dinner topic, @Anna N expressed her surprise at my local supermarkets selling such things just like in the west supermarkets sell rotisserie chickens. I promised to photograph the pre-cooked food round these parts.

      I can't identify them all, so have fun guessing!


      Chicken x 2






      Chicken feet

      Duck Feet

      Pig's Ear


      Pork Intestine Rolls


      Stewed River Snails

      Stewed Duck Feet (often served with the snails above)




      Beijing  Duck gets its own counter.
      More pre-cooked food to come. Apologies for some bady lit images - I guess the designers didn't figure on nosy foreigners inspecting the goods and disseminating pictures worldwide.
    • By liuzhou
      While there have been other Chinese vegetable topics in the past, few of them were illustrated And some which were have lost those images in various "upgrades".
      What I plan to do is photograph every vegetable I see and say what it is, if I know. However, this is a formidable task so it'll take time. The problem is that so many vegetables go under many different Chinese names and English names adopted from one or other Chinese language, too. For example, I know four different words for 'potato' and know there are more. And there are multiple regional preference in nomenclature. Most of what you will see will be vegetables from supermarkets, where I can see the Chinese labelling. In "farmer's" or wet markets, there is no labelling and although, If I ask, different traders will have different names for the same vegetable. Many a time I've been supplied a name, but been unable to find any reference to it from Mr Google or his Chinese counterparts. Or if I find the Chinese, can't find an accepted translation so have to translate literally.
      Also, there is the problem that most of the names which are used in the English speaking countries have, for historical reasons, been adopted from Cantonese, whereas 90% of Chinese speak Mandarin (普通话 pǔ tōng huà). But I will do my best to supply as many alternative names as I can find. I shall also attempt to give Chinese names in simplified Chinese characters as used throughout mainland China and then in  traditional Chinese characters,  now mainly only used in Hong Kong, Taiwan and among much of the Chinese diaspora. If I only give one version, that means they are the same in Simp and Trad.
      I'll try to do at least one a day. Until I collapse under the weight of vegetation.
      Please, if you know any other names for any of these, chip in. Also, please point out any errors of mine.
      I'll start with bok choy/choy. This is and alternatives such as  pak choi or pok choi are Anglicised attempts at the Cantonese pronunciation of the Mandarin! However in Cantonese it is more often 紹菜; Jyutping: siu6 coi3. In Chinese it is 白菜. Mandarin Pinyin 'bái cài'. This literally means 'white vegetable' but really just means 'cabbage' and of course there are many forms of cabbage. Merely asking for bái cài in many a Chinese store or restaurant will be met with blank stares and requests to clarify. From here on I'm just going to translate 白菜 as 'cabbage'.

      So, here we go.

      Brassica rapa subsp. pekinensis
      This is what you may be served if you just ask for baicai. Or maybe not. In much of China it is 大白菜 dà bái cài meaning 'big cabbage'. In English, usually known as Napa cabbage, Chinese cabbage, celery cabbage, Chinese leaf, etc.  In Chinese, alternative names include 结球白菜 / 結球白菜 ( jié qiú bái cài ), literally knotted ball cabbage, but there are many more. 
      This cabbage is also frequently pickled and becomes  known as 酸菜 (Mand: suān cài; Cant: syun1 coi3) meaning 'sour vegetable', although this term is also used to refer to pickled mustard greens.

      Pickled cabbage.
      In 2016, a purple variety of napa cabbage was bred in Korea and that has been introduced to China as 紫罗兰白菜 (zǐ luó lán bái cài) - literally 'violet cabbage'.

      Purple Napa (Boy Choy)
    • By liuzhou
      Yesterday, an old friend sent me a picture of her family dinner, which she prepared. She was never much of a cook, so I was a bit surprised. It's the first I've seen her cook in 25 years. Here is the spread.

      I immediately zoomed in on one dish - the okra.

      For the first 20-odd years I lived in China, I never saw okra - no one knew what it was. I managed to find its Chinese name ( 秋葵 - qiū kuí) in a scientific dictionary, but that didn't help. I just got the same blank looks.
      Then about 3 years ago, it started to creep into a few supermarkets. At first, they stocked the biggest pods they could find - stringy and inedible - but they worked it out eventually. Now okra is everywhere.

      I cook okra often, but have never seen it served in China before (had it down the road in Vietnam, though) and there are zero recipes in any of my Chinese language cookbooks. So, I did the sensible thing and asked my friend how she prepared it. Here is her method.
      1. First bring a pan of water to the boil. Add the washed okra and boil for two minutes. Drain.

      2. Top and tail the pods. Her technique for that is interesting.

      3. Finely mince garlic, ginger, red chilli and green onion in equal quantities. Heat oil and pour over the prepared garlic mix. Add a little soy sauce.

      4. Place garlic mix over the okra and serve.
      When I heard step one, I thought she was merely blanching the vegetable, but she assures me that is all the cooking it gets or needs, but she did say she doesn't like it too soft.

      Also, I should have mentioned that she is from Hunan province so the red chilli is inevitable.
      Anyway, I plan to make this tomorrow. I'm not convinced, but we'll see.
      to be continued
    • By missdipsy
      Two of my family members are pescetarian, one of whom is my picky daughter who only likes a few types of fish cooked in very specific ways so to all intents and purposes is mostly vegetarian. Many Chinese soup recipes involve meat or fish, or at least meat broth, so I'd love to find a few more recipes that would suit my whole family (I also don't eat much pork as it doesn't always agree with me, and a lot of soups involve pork so this is also for my benefit!). Vegetarian would be best, or pescetarian soups that are not obviously seafood based (I could get away with sneaking a small amount of dried shrimp in, for instance, but not much more than that!).
      Any kind of soup will do, although I'd particularly like some simple recipes that could be served alongside a multi-dish meal. But I'm always interested in new recipes so any good soup recipes would be welcome!
      Any suggestions?
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

  • Create New...