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.

Uses for a cleaver


Marlene
 Share

Recommended Posts

I have this shiny new Wusthof 7" cleaver. It shore is purty. I'm told by snowangel, that I should of course now be able to whack apart chickens. While that has a certain appeal, I got to wondering what else do you use a cleaver for?

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

How heavy is it? My butchers cleaver will cut apart just about anything. The chinese style is more a knife.

Bruce Frigard

Quality control Taster, Château D'Eau Winery

"Free time is the engine of ingenuity, creativity and innovation"

111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have a heavy cleaver too, but I really don't use it much. Hacking up chickens, yes. Sometimes attempting to hack frozen pieces of meat apart (not recommended). Hacking bones into smaller pieces for stock...that's about it.

I will confess, however, that I am a little scared of my cleaver. :unsure: I am very accident prone, and every time I use it I have visions of hacking one of my fingers off. Or dropping it on my foot blade down resulting in loss of toe. :shock::wacko:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The chinese style cleavers from Dexter Russel are more like knives, but the ones you get from Chinatown can actually be heavier. They also classify them into vegetable cleaver or bone cleaver, with the bone cleaver being significantly heavier, of course. My mentor always told me that one could use a chinese cleaver for almost every task in the kitchen. :wink:

Off the top of my head: it makes for a handy meat pounder and a bench scraper; makes crushing ginger pieces or garlic pieces a snap; and now that it's Fall, it comes in handy when splitting / cutting up winter squashes.

Cognito ergo consume - Satchel Pooch, Get Fuzzy

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You can use it to keep people out of the kitchen. Also to open a can of beer if you accidently break that little ring-y thing off (use the "heel" of the blade).

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Marlene, I can't believe you're asking. Have you forgotten already?

gallery_3085_1720_130795.jpg

That's my favorite thing to do with it. I usually borrow another and do it 2 handed.

:wub::wub:

Bruce Frigard

Quality control Taster, Château D'Eau Winery

"Free time is the engine of ingenuity, creativity and innovation"

111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you are a crazed Chinese chef in a 1960's era Kung Fu movie (or if you are Steven Seagal) you can also throw it at people with deadly force.

Actually, not limited to crazed chefs at all. The cleaver continues to be a favority weapon among the Triads. Hong Kong newspapers will occasionally feature these incidents. :wacko:

I'd stick to vegetables.

Cognito ergo consume - Satchel Pooch, Get Fuzzy

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I find I don't need a cleaver to break down chickens (except capons). I use mine mainly on turkeys when I whack the back, thighbones, and drumsticks for stocks. I also use it to segment oxtails, split the chine from veal and pork racks (I don't like the saw technique because it doesn't follow the natural breaks in the skeleton), and split marrow bones for stock. I'm glad you got the 7"--much more useful than the 6".

Besides, people pay attention to someone with a cleaver and a blood-spattered apron.

He who distinguishes the true savor of his food can never be a glutton; he who does not cannot be otherwise. --- Henry David Thoreau
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Chris, when you say coconuts, is that a euphamism for the human skull, or do you really mean a coconut. Because I think I am reading something else from across the ether here. I'm not sure if its an Ivy League coconut whacking tradition steeped in mystery or something more psychotic.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Bought a very nice 7" Dexter cleaver a few months ago and, out of habit, forget to use it and wind up using my other chef's knives. It seems a little steep to pay this kind of money and just use it to crush garlic ... I did use it to spatchcock a cornish hen and that worked out well. I use a lot of acorn squash on the fall/winter and will try it on the tough outer skin to split them into halves.

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I will now return to the topic at hand rather than trying to make light of a topic with a rather obvious answer -- I own two cleavers, both of the Chinese type. I rarely use them, mainly because there's very few things you can do with a cleaver than you can't do with a large, wide chef's knife with a heavy tang. Plus they seem to accumulate a lot of oxidation for some weird reason.

But yeah, for coconuts and making the eleven o'clock news, they are awesome. :laugh:

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I use my cleaver for everything except fiddly little tasks better done with a paring knife. When I cook at someone else's place and have to cut things without a cleaver, I start getting very unhappy.

Because most were gifts, I have ended up with 3 cleavers - 2 Chinese and 1 'Chinese-style' made in India, as well as 1 Japanese chef's knife.

Of these, I only use the 'Chinese-style' cleaver, though I did go through phases in the past where I used the others. One gets used to a certain feel and weight, and finds it easier and more comforting to stick with it. It also suffers less from oxidization.

One thing NOT to do with a cleaver is to use the blade end for smashing coconuts. My husband did this once (against my wishes :angry: ), and it ended up with a notch being taken out of the blade. This was a cleaver that I had used for cutting through bones, so obviously coconuts can be a different level of magnitude. I would actually suggest a hammer for use on coconuts - less spectacular than thwacking it with the back of a cleaver, but gets the job done without a sharp blade being brought unnecessarily into the process.

It's not just garlic that one can thwack with the side of the cleaver. Try it with ginger too. If your piece of ginger is particularly fibrous or thick, you might need to cut it lengthwise first in half or even quarters, but then just flatten it out with the side of the cleaver (you might need to bring additional pressure to bear by leaning your other hand also on the side of the blade so that your whole body weight is pressing it flat), and then mince further as desired.

The size of the blade make them useful for cutting through anything particularly large. Not just the squash mentioned above, but large unwieldy things like cabbage and watermelon are more easily cut with a cleaver IMO. But the BEST thing about a cleaver is being able to use the side of the blade as a scoop to carry vegetables etc. from the chopping board to the pan (or wherever).

As far as the risk of cutting yourself goes: the risk is exactly the same as any other sharp knife, no less, but certainly no more. The usual rule applies about keeping it sharp - the only time I ever got hurt by a cleaver was when I had let it get a little too blunt and it bounced off the skin of a bell pepper and onto the hand I was holding the bell pepper with.

And finally, yes, it does make a good weapon. I lived in China for about a year (which is probably why I love using cleavers so much), and did actually once see an enraged housewife chasing her husband (presumably it was her husband and not an unlucky stranger :rolleyes: ) down the street while screaming at him and wielding a cleaver. They disappeared round the corner of the street, so I don't know if she caught up with him, or what happened after that - I think that's what makes it so memorable, seeing a glimpse of someone else's drama without knowing the outcome. Anyway, it's not just in movies, but in real life that a cleaver can be wielded as a weapon.

Mind you, I'd prefer that such a weapon be a cleaver than a chain saw for example (a chain saw-wielding lunatic attacking and seriously injuring a couple of random passers-by actually happened recently here in Berlin. And unfortunately it wasn't an event reported in the equivalent of The Weekly World News but something that really did happen).

As for getting started on using it. I would seriously suggest that you give yourself two weeks or so in which you use only your cleaver and, when necessary, a small knife for fiddly small things like apple cores or peeling ginger (my Chinese friends use the cleaver for those tasks too, but I find it a little unwieldy). That way you'll start really 'getting the feel' of the cleaver, i.e. how it's weight and shape work for you. Then, after the trial period is up, see if you still want to keep using it. If you're like me - and a few friends I've managed to convert by having them cook in my kitchen with my tools - you won't want to be without it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Like Anzu, I use a chinese cleaver constantly.

I started this summer, because the kitchen I was in had exceedingly poor knife representation. I now once again live somewhere with other knives, but I find myself terribly uncomfortable using them!

There's something about the blade being a couple inches lower than my hand that I quite appreciate...and using it to carry things or scrape the cutting board is glorious.

AND it's a pretty frightening knife, so it's got basically everything going for it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...