cutting chicken chinese style
Does anyone know of a resource that describes how a whole cooked chicken is cut into bite sized pieces and pieced back together in Chinese restaurants. I've tried to approximate what I've seen in chinese restaurants but it never looks quite as neat and elegant when I do it.
Any descriptions with a diagram or photographs would be especially helpful...
It's not so much about technique. It's about arm strength, proper tools, and experience. I've seen my mom and grandma do it a hundred times, but when I try I just shred the chicken. If you go to a Chinese takeout place with chickens hanging in the window you can usually see a demo of what I'm talking about. They just have a huge cleaver, huge chopping board, and incredibly good aim.
The simple explanation is that you cut the leg's and thighs off as you would when carving a turkey, then cut in half through the spine and middle of the breastbone. You now have four pieces: two legs/thighs, and two breasts. Now the fun part:
Lay one breast piece on a cutting board with the neck side on the right and the tail side on the left. Use your left hand to hold the end of the chicken stead. Lift the cleaver as high as you are comfortable. Start just a few inches in the air, not two feet up like the pros do. The edge of the cleaver that's closest to the handle should dig into the chicken. That gives you leverage. If you use a strong, clean motion, it should split the bone and let you follow through and cut the meat. If you are new to this or not that strong, it will pierce and stick in the bone. At this point I usually use my left hand to pound the cleaver into the bone a little further (this is also when my mom shakes her head and asks me to step aside). Repeat with the leg piece, laying it with foot pointed to the left.
You must have a very sharp, very heavy cleaver for this. Even your best chef's knife won't cut it.
I assume you don't literally mean bite-sized, just manageable pieces with the bone still on.
thanks for your tips noodles...my question was not one of technique... i can cut the chicken efficiently and cleanly with my chinese cleaver. my issue is aesthetic....when a chicken is presented in a chinese restaurant the pieces are reassembled beautifully because the pieces were cut in a way which allows for it to be put back together cleanly on a plate...i.e. the three dimensional chicken and cut and reassemble in a two dimensional manner or the plate.... i would like to duplicate this process....