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Hassouni

Is this Chinese knife sufficient for chopping poultry?

42 posts in this topic

You don't have to.

You just have to cut in between the joints.

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

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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 (log)

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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 (log)

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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 (log)

Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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dcarch -- #12 --

You can also use the dull side of the blade to pound and flatten thick pieces of meat.

A cleaver is indeed a useful, multi-purpose utencil!

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

Thank you, yes! Although I got half a thumbnail sliced off by my mandoline for Dunlop's "lamp shadow sweet potato chips"....

The knife really had to be whacked down hard from up on high to get a clean cut in one blow, and the duck being 50% fat, it was kind of messy - but somehow I managed! Will post some pictures in the dinner and C.E. @ home threads....

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On a side note:

I was in my local kitchen hardware market this morning and thought about this thread. I examined some of the cleavers on sale. They have all sizes and weights - it mainly caters for professional cooks.

Not one cleaver had a number on it. People seemed to choose by feel.

Later I was in the supermarket, where I guess most domestic cooks buy their cleavers. Again no numbers.

When I got home I checked my two cleavers. No numbers.

Perhaps, it's an overseas Chinese thing.

Cleaver.jpg

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My "bent" cleaver is a number 2, and still quite useable for slicing meat and vegetables.

My replacement is a Zhongwei - meant for chopping through bones.

Bought a Chinese BBQ duck today and had to chop it up Chinese style to fit in the fridge for tomorrow's supper with guests.

I got 3 little pieces of bone, and these were from the back bone - cut up for jook tomorrow morning. The little pieces are on the piece of fat.

So, it IS possible to chop without dangerous chards...

duck and cleaver 8212.jpg


Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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I wouldn't use a cleaver with good quality steel to chop poultry. For example I have a nice Shun cleaver, quite light made of VG10 steel. The first and only time I used this to chop up a cooked chicken it chipped the blade quite badly. Softer steel is less likely to chip. I think the cleaver you've bought in the first post should handle the job well. A thinner blade makes cleaner cuts and is less likely to splinter the bones but a lot is down to skill and practise. A thinner blade can be awkward as the spine can dig into your grip. A thin spine is also difficult to apply pressure on with your non cutting hand if you need that extra whack to go through the bone. Though with skill and practise you should never need that extra whack.

In Chinese BBQ shops they mostly use heavier cleavers as the extra weight helps with the amount of work they do. But they also use soft curved boards which help to cushion the impact and prevent splintering.

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I find it interesting that you mention a thin spine can dig into your grip. there are 2 - 3 very good books on sharpening your knives around. I cant remember which it was, but it mentioned you could further 'tune' your knives by rounding the edge on the spine of your knife that, if your are R handed cuts into your R first finger as you grip it about the first knuckle out from the one connected to your palm. it takes 2 - 3 minutes with a good steel. you just relieve that edge.

no more sore or damaged R first finger.

a tip worth it in gold!

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Yup that's a useful tip as a lot of thin cleavers have squared spines which can dig into your first finger with just light use slicing veg etc. But even with a rounded spine the impact forces of chopping poultry with a thin blade can be uncomfortable on your right hand.

Personally I use a thick chopper type for my poultry. A good chopping tip is to flatten the section of meat slightly with your cleaver before chopping. This helps with the shape and prevents the piece flying away.

I haven't come across any books on how to chop up cooked poultry and present it the Chinese way. There should as there's nothing worse than "Chinese" cooks massacring poultry!


Edited by Prawncrackers (log)

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I did the above on most of my knives after I read about it: the larger Globals were causing me a lot of trouble at that joint for a long time until I read the tip and connected the problem: 2 minutes each Global and a few other large knives and Nada!

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As others here have said, I can't think of instances in "normal" Chinese/SEAsian/E Asian cuisine where poultry and other on-bone meats are not CHOPPED to give pieces of meat-and-bone. I can't recall ever having a plate of chicken in a Chinese cuisine context where the chicken is dismembered by cutting at the joints only. Ditto duck, roast pork, beef ribs, pork ribs, char-siu, roast goose, etc etc etc. OK, I have found pieces/splinters of bone sometimes, particularly when I do my non-professional CHOPPING of my meats at home, but that has never bothered me. I don't eat my food like Donatella Arpaia - i.e. everything on the plate goes into the mouth without any thought or caution. If there is a splinter, I just remove it before or after it goes in my mouth (with chopsticks, or fork/spoon, whatever). :-)

My cleaver is a one-piece steel one (non-stainless) without a "number" that I can see. I think I've had this for maybe 20+ years. Pretty heavy and thick-bladed. The non-cutting edge is bashed in with a slight curve around 1 ½ inch to around 4 inches from the far edge from my using the cleaver to smash and pound stuff. The cutting edge is still undented/un-nicked. I get it sharpened by a professional knife sharpener once in a while and he always jokes with me about whose head I had been bashing in with that top edge of the cleaver. :-D


Edited by huiray (log)

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Actually, on reflection I think I've had this cleaver for more than 30 years...

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I think "chopping" can mean different things. I would say that in general, Japanese and Chinese knife skills often have more of an up-down motion than a slicing forward motion like in French style cutting. I would consider this "chopping", even when it's not cutting through bone.

In any event, a light duty slicer will likely get nicked if used to cut through bone. I bought a bone chopper (even though I'm vegetarian), after my father-in-law nicked a CCK carbon steel cleaver (#3 / 1303 maybe?) cutting through chicken bones. In addition to the CCK slicer and CCK bone chopper, we have a Sujimoto Japanese made Chinese style cleaver which is a bit heavier, but still fairly delicate.

The bone chopper is way overkill for our household, but does sometimes come in handy for cutting open squash.

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