HOME > Chowhound > Cookware >

Discussion

Cleaver

Is it useful and worth buying? Actually, WHERE would I buy a real one. I saw something that looks like a cleaver at Bed Bath and Beyond, but it had a note "not a cleaver, it is a knife" even though it looked similar. Any thoughts on this gadget?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. Asian markets/supply stores typically offer inexpensive cleavers in a variety materials. I've had my eye on a Global cleaver for years, just never taken the plunge. It's a beautiful piece.

    2 Replies
    1. re: aelph

      I've had one for years and I rarely use it. Most times when I'm doing stock and breaking up chicken bones. It is kind of clumsy for most regular cutting. For most things I use a chef's knife.

      1. re: Eric in NJ

        That's what I'm afraid of...Asian food is a large part of my repertoire, but I haven't yet encountered any prep I couldn't manage with my chef's knife(etc.) and a little elbow grease. Unless you're dedicated to fabricating a lot of meat on a regular basis and/or wish to perfect those Chinese cleaver skills(some involving two cleavers)...I would hold off on the purchase.

    2. A true cleaver has a wider edge angle, at least 20 degrees, probably 25, compared to 12 (Japanese) or 16 (German) knives. The advantage is that it will rip through bones or cartilege more easily. It will still work like a knife on softer material, but with less finesse. And of course it is great for scooping up what you have chopped.

      2 Replies
      1. re: jayt90

        I would suggest a inexpensive Forschner Fibrox handled cleaver if you are looking for a western clever that is used to break down large pieces of meat or tough vegetation.

        http://www.knifemerchant.com/products...

        item number 40590

        Forschner also makes nice Chinese style cleavers.

        1. re: jayt90

          I agree with what jayt90 said. I recently got one and I use it when I know I have a heavy duty cutting/chopping/hacking job ahead of me. It is not the easiest thing to get used to in order to do finer dicing/mincing jobs, but it slices well.

          www.roguefood.com

        2. There are two similar-looking tools that might be called cleavers. The Asian one is used like a chef's knife, rather than for cleaving.

          1. I think CCK is one of the best and most common brand of Chinese cleaver, and they are not that expensive. If you don't have an asian kitchen supply store near you, Action Sales (local to Southern California, but they do mail order) sells them. See also:

            http://www.knifeforums.com/forums/pri...
            http://actionsales.com/

            -----
            Action Sales
            415 S Atlantic Blvd, Monterey Park, CA 91754

            1. I will look for a store in Chinatown in San Francisco, asian store sounds like a great idea!

              3 Replies
              1. re: polish_girl

                Check the one mentioned in the Knife Forum thread if it's still there:

                Greatmin Trading Co.
                780 Broadway St.
                San Francisco, CA 94133

                -----
                GreatMin Trading Co
                780 Broadway, San Francisco, CA

                1. re: will47

                  I'm going to bike over after work if they're open. I just tried calling, but there was no answer.

                  Does anyone know Greatmin Trading Co.'s hours?

                  1. re: kevin.dickerson

                    No idea, sorry. However, if you are interested in Chan Chi Kee knives, you can also find some on the internet. Of course, going to Great Min may be easier for you.

              2. For most home cooks, I would suggest that's it's not a necessary piece to own. It can be intemidating to use as well as dangerous. I have a large carbon steel cleaver that might see the light of day 2-3 times a year. The Chinese cleaver is really more of a vegetable knife and is used differently than a true cleaver. Again if you are not comfortable with your knife skills don't buy it.

                1 Reply
                1. re: tastelikechicken

                  I think some reasonably heavy version is useful to own if you ever have to chop through bone - a slightly heavier Asian cleaver is useful for anything harder to cut through than, say, chicken backs. I think they're safer because more effective than most chef's knives and a cheap Asian one is reasonably effective, saving potential damage to more expensive knives. That should be enough for things like fowl, fish and small or jointed mammal bones like necks and whatnot. I also have one of those heavy German CS cleavers and it also doesn't get much use, but nothing beats it when you need it.

                  With either kind (but not the Asian veg knife type), if you need more "oomph" than the weight of the blade and a short swing provides, use a mallet or something after loding the cleaver in the bone/connective tissue, or if you can a stronger stroke, but don't swing it too widely - you need to keep control since a bouncing cleaver is nobody's friend. You might want to make a slight cut or knick to aim at. Think of it more or less as a sharp hammer. Don't use your wrist, swing from the elbow or shoulder depending on how much force you need and are comfortable withusing safely. Watch your other hand!

                2. I had a cheap "asian cleaver" with a rockered-blade. I was inspired by Martin Yan or some other Asian chef on TV. In principle I like the extra scooping surface since when I do the same maneuver with a santoku or chefs knife, I inevitably drop a few pieces of whatever I'm trying to move (much to the dog's delight).

                  In practice however, I found the elevated handle position awkward and after a few months of trying I went back to my regular knives.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: jzerocsk

                    That's a good point. I use a SS cleaver by Sekizo, a brand rarely seen, bought for $25 in Chinatown. It is curved, takes a good edge, and best of all, the blade is only 3"x6", way smaller than the traditional cleaver. I believe
                    Henckel's has one this size, for more $$.

                  2. Many people who learn to use one really like them but it does take time to learn to hold it and use it correctly. I have always felt awkward when using a cleaver so tend to shy away from them unless I am hacking away at chicken bones. I can't see using it as a main knife but some people do.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: scubadoo97

                      also check out the selection and info at www.fantes.com

                      I have a traditional cleaver and also use it for cutting very hard squashes

                    2. I have a huge, heavy old cleaver that originally belonged to my grandfather, a butcher who retired back in the 1960s. No one else in the family wanted it so I got it after he died. But every time I think about using it I remember those missing finger tips of his...

                      1. Hi polish girl I'd like to contact you, but there are no private messages here, so I hope you get this one. If so please send me email to this adres: lysy.dres@gmail.com I've got some cleaver questions. ;]

                        1. I've heard good things about the Chinese cleavers from Dexter-Russell and Lamson Sharp. Both brands are priced reasonably over at www.knifemerchant.com

                          1. A meat cleaver, versus a general purpose Chinese cleaver, is a heavier tool and it can do things like break through small rib bones and trim cartilage without fear of chipping or bending. Good knives shouldn't be given that treatment -- in fact, a dear friend of mine managed to permanently bend the tip of both my favorite 8 inch chef's knife and a slicer because he was trying to help get dinner ready before I got home and had no idea what knife to use or not use. A cleaver would have done this job just fine with no damage.

                            Lesson learned: If I am going to have houseguests, leave a sign on the knives that say "These are delicate and expensive. Please don't touch without asking which expensive one to use for your task". Trust me, my friends know how fussy I am and will probably laugh.