Using The Chinese Cleaver (Part 1)
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Using The Chinese Cleaver (Part 1)
Last updated 6/12/2012 1:03:02 AM. Recipe ID 26740. Report a problem with this recipe.
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      Title: Using the chinese cleaver (part 1)
 Categories: Info, Wok
      Yield: 1 Info
           No ingredients
  With a little practice, any beginning wok cook can master the use of
  the Chinese cleaver. As mentioned earlier, a Chinese cleaver must be
  honed very sharply before use and one should have a suitable cutting
  board on hand.
  The Styles of cutting foods for Chinese cooking include slicing,
  dicing, shredding and mincing. It cannot be stressed enough that
  students must exercise safety in the use of the Chinese cleaver. A
  dull cleaver or knife will cause accidents as the cook will have to
  work too hard at slicing anything. A sharp knife will also cause
  accidents, if not held properly.
  To hold a cleaver properly for cutting, one should take his right
  hand (or left hand, if left handed) and get a firm comfortable grip
  on his cleaver. The other hand should be free to hold or move the
  food as it is being cut. If a food, such as a potato, is round, it is
  best to hold it firm on the cutting board and with your free hand cut
  the potato directly in half. Lay the flat side down on the cutting
  board and continue slicing. By creating a flat surface, a round food
  is prevented from rolling, thereby lessening the chances of an
  There are two types of slicing styles in Chinese cooking. The first is
  straight slicing and the other is diagonal slicing. There should be a
  rhythm of motion involved in slicing foods and this may be achieved
  by the novice cook with practice. For slicing, insert the forward
  blade of the cleaver into the food. Your free hand should hold the
  food onto the cutting board. Press down toward the back part of the
  blade, slice. The motion should be forward to back. Use your free
  hand to push food up to the knife blade, keeping the fingers tucked
  in. The blade should be kept as close to the cutting board as
  possible. Repeat slicing motion until all food is cut. This slicing
  motion is done with ease. Great pressure need not be exerted on the
  knife. If you are using great pressure on your knife then you are
  cutting with unnecessary effort or else the knife is dull. Usually
  the novice cook does quite well until he gets to slicing the end
  piece of the food, then it is better to go slower to finish off the
  The main point that must be emphasized for wok cookery is that the
  food should be sliced as uniformly as possible. This is to allow like
  foods to be cooked at the same time. If some slices of a like food
  are thick while others are medium or thin, then the thin slices will
  be undercooked. So strive for uniformity in cutting.
  Meats, especially beef, should be sliced across the grain of the
  meat. This is to prevent the meat from becoming "tough" when it is
  cooked. The most difficult type of meat for novice cooks to cut is
  beef. It also is the easiest to overcook and render "tough." For
  anyone who has difficulty in learning to cut beef, it might be better
  to use a thin sharp blade knife (like the 1 1/2" cleaver). Lay the
  beef flat with the muscular or long fibers perpendicular to the
  cutting board. Insert the forward blade of the knife across the grain
  of the beef. Take your free hand and lay the fingers over the slice
  of beef that you wish to cut. Slice slowly towards yourself. You can
  feel the thickness of your beef slice. Try to slice your beef about
  2x1/2" in length and breadth, and about 1/8" to 1/4" thick. Some
  beginning wok cooks are afraid of holding the beef with their free
  fingers. This is incorrect as it will cause either accidents or
  result in coarsely, uneven cut beef. If you are initially afraid of
  the knife, do the cutting very slowly until you gain more confidence.
  The finished cooked dish will be the reward for your patience.

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Recipe ID 26740 (Apr 03, 2005)

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