Having a good Chinese cleaver (菜刀) is an important part of Chinese cooking. Unlike western cooking that differentiate types of knife for different purpose, Chinese uses the cleaver for almost any form of food processing. It can be used to cut, slice, chop, minced, smash, skin, tenderize etc. A good cleaver has a the following characteristic.
- Right weight (not too heavy that tired you out, or too light that you cannot control the cutting action)
- Weight balance so that it does not strain the wrist and have better control. You should get knife that the same piece of metal extends through the length of the handle, with rivets securing the wooden handle to the blade. (See the picture). This will means that you are in fact holding on the blade itself, giving you a good sense of control on the blade.
- Very sharp, so that a cutting action down will cut the food without slipping. It is very important safety feature, as your fingers will be just next to the blade, and the blade slipping off the intended cutting position will put your fingers at risk. This sounds contrary that people are afraid that their knife is too sharp and they may cut themselves, but the fact is just the opposite.
- Blade is slightly curved.
- The flat surface of the blade is not exactly flat, and allow air to sip in between the blade and the food. This will prevent the vacuum effect, for example the carrot slices stuck on the blade when you slice through it.