Cooking Chinese food isn’t just about getting the right ingredients, but cutting them like a skilled chef also matters. The key to achieve chef-like cuts for Chinese recipe ingredients is to know how to use the tools properly.
Are you familiar with the Chinese cleaver or Chinese chef’s knife? It is a beautiful and multi-faceted tool popularly utilized in cutting ingredients for different Chinese recipes or Chinese cooking. Not only do they provide the necessary function of the regular chef’s knife, but cleavers could also be used to scoop up the chopped and sliced food ingredients safely to transfer them to a container or pan.
Famous Chinese Knife or Chinese Cleavers
Whether you are preparing or cooking Chinese food ingredients for deep frying or stir frying, there are some cleavers that could cut them like a pro. Choosing the right cutting tool is the first step for achieving the perfect cut for some Chinese recipe ingredients.
Having the right equipment for cutting will provide both the aesthetic and right cooking benefit. Before you start cooking the recipes, make sure that you have prepared and cut the necessary ingredients. You choose Shun Classic, Wusthof, Zhen, Zwilling Henckels Twin Signature, or Dexter-Russell as they are multifunctional Chinese and vegetable cleavers.
Meat Cleavers Vs. Chinese Chef’s Knives
Cooking Chinese food recipes requires a few ingredients to be prepared beforehand. Knowing the difference between some tools just like meat cleavers and Chinese Chef’s knives could be beneficial for those aspiring chefs. This will also make the cooked food more presentable when served.
The Chinese Chef’s knife is known as chukabocko in Japanese versions. They provide ecstatic results if the cutting job requires some finesse work to be done. The chukabocko Japanese version is just the same as the regular Chinese Chef knife, but they are manufactured in a more refined process. They are made with Japanese alloys which are also more expensive.
Chinese chefs would often use a single knife for all of their kitchen tasks. That is why in some Chinese restaurants, you’ll see a large, square-tipped Chinese chef’s knife in their kitchen.
Though a Chinese Chef’s knife can be mistaken as a regular knife or cleaver, it varies as it is lightweight and versatile. A Chinese Chef’s knife is an all-rounder tool that can be used for pounding, chopping, crushing, mincing, scooping, and slicing food. Its handle can be used for bashing and grinding.
If the job requires delicate peeling, chopping, and slicing duties, the Chinese Chef’s knife has a narrow cross-section that is flexible and able to handle those tasks. Whether you are preparing some fresh ginger for a bok choy or other fresh ingredients, it should be done perfectly with a Chinese chef’s knife.
The Chinese Chef’s knife is mainly used for chopping vegetables, however, it can also slice fine slivers from meat and other proteins. If you will need to chop large bones, there is a designated knife designed for that job which is heavier and with a thick cross-section, just like a butcher’s saw.
Stir-fry Chinese cooking, just like the stir-fried meat, may require another tool for cutting the ingredients like a pro. A meat or butcher’s cleaver is perfect for hammering hard bones as it is big and heavy, with a thick and dense blade. This is designed to avoid chip, crack, or buckle when chopping big bones.
To compare these two, the Chinese chef’s knife has a slender, fine nature with a thin blade designed mainly for slicing and chopping vegetables and some meats that are not so hard just like the chicken. Meanwhile, the meat cleaver is designed to be swung like a hammer.
The Chinese chef knives are also used to flatten and crush ingredients like garlic, ginger, or nuts before frying them into the wok with oil. Its spine can also be used to pound and tenderize meat. Making it a more versatile tool than the meat cleaver.
It is also notable that the meat cleaver has a heavier tip than the Chinese version. When it comes to using the tools for a longer period, meat cleaver could last longer since the Chinese chef knife is made with much higher carbon that makes it prone to chipping if it’s ever used on hard bone.
Tools To Use When Cutting Ingredients
Just like cooking chicken and before putting it on a serving plate, it goes through different processes and that includes cutting, chopping, or pounding the meat. Other ingredients should also be cut, even before stir frying on a sauce.
There are different tools that would let you cut these ingredients like a skilled chef. Let us check on them so that you can familiarize yourself and cook your own dish.
Cutting vegetables into two halves could be made easy if you use a ping knife or simply known as vegetable knife. A slicer has the thinnest blades in the cross-section, with a tight bevel. These knives are also known as the sharpest among the common knives.
The appearance of the slicers are similar to the Japanese nakiri knives. They are not as tall or as long compared to choppers or cleavers. Aside from cutting vegetables, slicers can also be used for mincing herbs, peeling, or paring. They can also be utilized for slicing very thin strips of meat for stir-frying in a wok.
A moniker of Chinese chef’s knives, choppers have slightly thicker blades compared to slicers. Though they are not as thick as the cleavers, they can also do most of the chopping or cutting duties before you eat your food.
Choppers can also be used on meats, vegetables, and herbs. It can chop, slice and mince them perfectly. After cutting the ingredients for your Chinese cooking needs, you can conveniently use it as a scoop to transfer ingredients from the cutting board to the wok, or even to another dish.
If you don’t want the heavy weight of the cleavers to cut your vegetables or meat, then choppers would be the perfect choice.
If you need a heavy-duty knife to cut a whole chicken or slice other meats with bones, cleavers would be a go-to and should do the job for you. Chinese chefs would often refer to cleavers as bone choppers as they have thick and heavy blades that could easily chop those bones.
May it be chicken, pork ribs or beef, cleavers should easily handle them. You can also make those meats tender by pounding them using a cleaver. Vegetables should also be a breeze should you need to chop them.
Ways to Cut Your Ingredients
There are basic ways on how you can cut your ingredients perfectly. You can do the chop, the dice, the mince, the julienne, and the chiffonade. Though learning them might differ based on experience, one way to know more about them is to enroll in culinary schools.
Even when doing simple dishes such as stir fry vegetables, you will need some basic knowledge on how to cook the food properly and that includes how to cut. Making a sauce or chopping vegetables depends on how you deal with the ingredients.
If you are a fast learner, you may also check out some tutorial videos on the internet. Results may vary if you are being taught personally rather than doing it online. As they say, experience is the best teacher.