Chinese Cleavers/Chef's Knives Thoughts?

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tagout77

Assistant Cook
Joined
Feb 15, 2010
Messages
21
Hello all!

A bit of background. I consider myself a competent amateur chef. Most of my experience comes from feeding myself from a young age when the majority of my family ate a meat diet while I was a devout (and still am) vegetarian. I had to deal with my families insistence on buying cheap and crappy cutlery and cookware.

Now I'm about to venture forth on my own with my own apartment and I've decided to buy quality cookware. However, a friend of mine suggest that my utility knife be a Chinese Cleaver or Chinese Chef's knife. I'm curious if anyone has any experiences with them and what do they offer compared to a standard Chef's Knife or a Santuko? And those that do like them is their a particular brand you like?

Thanks
 

Rob Babcock

Head Chef
Joined
Dec 23, 2004
Messages
1,337
Location
Big Sky Country
Chinese cleavers are great tools, but a lot of it depends on the types of knives you're used to using. I do have some light- and medium-weight cleavers but as a pro chef I'm more accustomed to a gyuto/French knife. Of course, the Chinese Cleave is the gyuto to some cultures. I like them for prepping poultry and processing veggies, although they wouldn't be my first choice for most things.

BTW, Welcome to DC!:)
 

tagout77

Assistant Cook
Joined
Feb 15, 2010
Messages
21
Yeah I know the chinese tend to use the cleave as their Chef knife. Is there a particular reason for that or is it just cultural preference? What about a chinese cleaver that keeps it from being your go to knife?

Right now I'm firmly deciding if I should buy a Gyutou/French Chefs/Chinese Cleaver. I realize the Euro style knives have a larger cutting angle and are more "versatile" but I don't see myself butchering large cuts of meat (like I said I'm a vegetarian) and if I did I would just purchase a cleaver for that right?

So I'm leaning more toward the Gyutou or the Chinese cleaver. But I'm not for sure what advantage the cleaver has over the gyutou other than "feel"
 

Rob Babcock

Head Chef
Joined
Dec 23, 2004
Messages
1,337
Location
Big Sky Country
What about a chinese cleaver that keeps it from being your go to knife?

A couple decades working in professional kitchens!:ROFLMAO: I'm just used to what I'm used to and maybe a bit set in my ways- it's nothing more than that. As for the Chinese, my thought is that it's cultural; they're used to using the knives they learned growing up, just like us. Plus, as it's been explained to me, the Chinese aren't "anatomists" in their cuisine. That is to say, they don't disassemble things with the precision that the French and Japanese do. Think of a classic Chinese stir fry- the thighs are just hacked crossways into strips. They tend to cut things to a specific size that works with the technique. I'm not wording this very well, but it's just reflective of a different philosophy. The kind of techniques they employ & the tools they use developed hand-in-glove over many centuries.
 

masteraznchefjr

Sous Chef
Joined
Sep 2, 2004
Messages
785
Location
UCLA
my chinese cleaver is my all purpose chef knife. good surface area to smash garlic, good knife to cut meat, the big surface area is good for chopping and cutting things so I don't chop my fingers off
 

jpaulg

Senior Cook
Joined
Oct 6, 2008
Messages
208
Location
Brisbane, Qld, Australia
My experience in a professional kitchen is that traditional chef's knives (or gyutos) are better at cutting meat due to the fine control the pointed tip gives and euro chef's knives are better at root vegetables due to their sturdier construction.

For soft vegetables it is very hard to to go past a Chinese cleaver or a nakiri.

For a vegetarian cook I think a chinese cleaver would probably be the best choice of knife. If you're prepared to put up with the hassle of keeping a carbon steel knife the Dexter Russel Chinese Choppers offer good value for money:
Dexter-Russell, Inc.
 

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