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Anyone have any opinions on Asian vegetable cleavers?

Howdy. Wondering if I should "invest" in an Asian vegetable cleaver.

I spend a good portion of my weekends chopping vegetables, garlic, ginger, and onions into various small pieces, and do a lot of julienning, as my kids will eat any vegetable that's been julienned.

I have a Calphalon santoku knife that I use for everything. It's pretty good, stays sharp. I have had it for four years and have been chopping, slicing, and dicing with few problems. I had to deal with a bunch of squashes this weekend - not pleasant but got through them with my little knife. I always wash my knife and dry my knife right away, and it's never rusted. The small size is great for my hands. It could be sharper, I guess. I occasionally withy my little cheapie sharpener.

I listen to ATK RAdio and have been reading Fuschia Dunlop's cookbooks - both recommend Asian cleavers as excellent for people who prep a lot of vegetables. The MAC one that ATK recommends is $85 - there are several cheaper ones on Amazon that are well-reviewed.

I've never bought any fancy kitchen knives - but I'm intrigued. Does anyone have or use a cleaver like the MAC cleaver? Is it worth the expense or the cost of real estate in my small apartment kitchen?

Thoughts? Thanks in advance.

asked by puttakka about 3 years ago

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7 answers 1464 views
Niknud
Niknud

Rachael is a trusted home cook.

added about 3 years ago

Pros: You look like a total boss when you use it. Like, I dare my kids to come in the kitchen and give me lip while I'm hacking up a squash with a giant cleaver.

Cons: There's very little that you wouldn't be able to do using a regular heavy kitchen knife.

Summary: I have one, I don't use it very often but I'm glad I have it whan the butternut squash and I are eyeballing each other.

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Smaug
added about 3 years ago

If you're interested in learning skills for the fun of it, a cleaver would be a good project; like any hand tool, there's a lot of skill in using it well. If you just want to get your vegetables prepped, probably best to stick to your Santoku, or a small (8") chef's knife. The Chef's Choice, and similar sharpeners do an adequate job with almost no effort or skill required; there are versions for oriental blades (different sharpening angles), as wele skill and knives are tricky.ll as electrics, which I wouldn't recommend unless you need to completely regrind a lot of very dull knives. Superb edges are another learning process; your best edges are done by hand, but it requires considerable skill and knives are tricky.

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Garlic Fiend
added about 3 years ago

I learned how to cook using a cleaver for everything, including chopping, mincing, peeling, etc. Like every other knife, it does require learning some knife skills to wield it properly without getting hurt. I love it for all sorts of chopping, including hard squashes, watermelons, chopping thru bones, etc. If you have some time, I would recommend entertaining yourself by watching chef Martin Yan.

It is useful to have one, but only if you know how to handle it safely

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Nancy
Nancy

Nancy is a trusted home cook.

added about 3 years ago

Probably worth having ONE of the cleaver or a large chef knife in your kitchen.
And, as other posters have said, one must learn the skills.
Side benefit: great as a smasher for garlic, lemon grass, meat to make schnitzel (spelling) and other flattened, thin meat dishes.

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HalfPint
HalfPint

HalfPint is a trusted home cook.

added about 3 years ago

My mother used her cleaver for just about everything. In a way it was her food processor. It chopped, sliced, minced, and pulverize. And it cost about $30. Get one that feels comfortable in your hand and has a little heft, but isn't so heavy that you can't get a good grip on it. Go to a knife store or even Sur La Table to try some out before you decide on one. Also check out Asian supermarkets.

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cv
cv
added about 3 years ago

If you are happy with what your Calphalon santoku knife can do, you should consider getting another one, then alternate between the two.

If you feel that one knife's blade is considerably worse, sent it out to a professional knife sharpener (there's one that shows up at my town's farmers market almost every weekend) and use the other one until you get the freshly-sharpened knife back.

Of course, acquiring a different knife may open up new possibilities and usage scenarios for you, however no one here can adequately speak to your particular situation.

Anyhow, good luck.

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paseo
added about 3 years ago

Try a Japanese knife called a nakiri - smaller and lighter than a Chinese cleaver, but the same basic shape usually with a rounded nose. There are some inexpensive ones available from the Wok Shop website and Amazon.

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