Before Buying a Chinese Cleaver
When it comes to cutting utensil meant for all purposes, the Chinese cleaver is of no match and none could compare or beat it. Practically, all parts of the knife can be put to great use in one way or another. The edge with the sharp blade is for cutting while the other blunter side is useful for pounding and tenderizing meat. Turning the cleaver on its side and it will be a great smashing tool for ginger and garlic. Besides, it can even be used to transfer ingredients that have been cut from the cutting board to the wok for cooking. The cleaver also comes with additional bonus of the handle's flat end which substitutes nicely as a pestle when required.
It is the blade that matters
Cleavers blades were traditionally made of carbon steel. However, carbon steel is a metal that is prone to rust and that is the problem of using carbon steel as the material. Besides, there will also be a tendency of having a metallic taste in the food. Today, well-known cookbook authors recommend using cleaver made of stainless steel, or at least a combination of stainless steel and carbon steel.
Cleaver or Knife?
Unlike the cleavers of western butcher's, Chinese cleaver should not be used to chop bones even though they look similar. To chop bones, heavier cleavers are required for this job. Instead, the main function of those Chinese Chef's Knife which is also known as a lighter cleavers are meant for slicing vegetables and meat. If you use the lighter cleavers to chop bones, you run the risk of damaging the blade. If you're not sure of the types of cleaver you have at home, just check at the store that you made that purchase.
How to choose a cleaver
Check with a few experts on their most favorite cleaver and the responses will come back in different answers. Just like the flavors of ice cream, selecting a cleaver is rather a personal preference. The most crucial is to find a well made cleaver. Martin Yan, Dexter and J.A. Henckels are amongst some of the better brand names.
In addition, it is also very important when it comes to your level of comfort in handling the cleaver. It should not be too heavy but at the same time feel solid. If you felt your arms to be strained when handling the cleaver, then choose another one. Preparing meals should not be a hard work.
Sharpening the cleaver
It is essential to sharpen the blade of the cleaver regularly. If you attempt to use a dull knife, you will tend to use more forces which can result in unwanted accidents in the kitchen.
To sharpen a cleaver, there are numerous ways to do so. You can use a smooth sandstone to sharpen or using a sharpening steel for the job. Sharpening steels realign the cleaver's blade edge at the molecular level instead of removing the metals.
Maintenance and care for cleavers
Protecting the cleaver's blade is the utmost important thing when it comes to storing or cleaning it. To avoid the risk of damaging it, cleavers ought to be kept in proper knife block. When cleaning a cleaver, the best way is to wash by hand in soapy and warm water. To ensure proper storage, always dry the cleaver thoroughly as stainless steel is not completely rustproof. And always clean the cleaver's blade immediately after you have used it to work with acidic ingredients like tomatoes.