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  1. #1
    Senior Member
    mano's Avatar
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    Cleaver Question

    Asian cleavers are getting a lot of ink on KKF with people talking about group buys for a dozen @ $10 -30 each. Are these the same cleavers available at Asian markets in larger cities? What would i look for in a decent cheap cleaver in Philadelphia or Manhattan China Towns?

    I do know to bargain down the price.
    "Too much of anything is bad, but too much good whiskey is barely enough." —Mark Twain

  2. #2
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    Yes. You can find perfectly functional all-carbon steel Chukabohos for $10-$20 in a Chinese market in most major cities, or you used to. Unfortunately the recent interest in chinese cleavers and upscale kNives has grossly inflated prices for the heretofore inexpensive run of the mill cleaver.

    Hax the Cook CLEAVERS RULE!!!
    A barbeque believer will not profane pork by boiling, liquid-smoking, submeging in sous-vide, or affirm with those who do.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Andy777's Avatar
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    They key with the junker cleavers is all in the blade design. These cheap cleavers we keep talking about are very well designed very thin slicers. The steel can be pure garbage but they will still cut well. If you pick up a more all purpose cleaver, they still work fine but don't perform to the standards we knifeknuts like. So if you run into a cleaver in a market look at the design which you can tell on the spot, you never know about the steel until you use and sharpen it. But if you pick up a well designed slicer for $10-30, regardless of how crappy the steel is you will have a fun knife. And actually, even the more all purpose ones are fun, but they won't have the insane price/performance ratio of a CCK for example. (although CCK's were $30 back when I bought them from my local place, now that they run $60-80, I'd rather just save up and buy a Suien. But that's a topic for another day.) Hope that rambling helped.

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    I brought back around a dozen locally made cleavers from Southern China last year and I wouldn't describe any of them as having "pure garbage" for steel in the blades. Just plain carbon that sharpens easy and takes a keen edge. You certainly won't find anybody in that area using a whizzbang super Japanese cleaver and they manage to turn out some pretty fair cooking.

    It is almost second nature for me to touch up any knife I'm using before preparing a meal. With the Chinese cleavers, I use a few quick passes over a diamond rod.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Andy777's Avatar
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    I didn't say they were all pure garbage, I said even if they are pure garbage (which I've found a good number of the stainless variety to be) they will still cut really well due to the good design. And like I said, for most people you can't tell the quality of the steel looking at it in a shop, but you can tell the quality of the design and the grind etc. If you pick up one with pretty good steel great, but even if you pick one up with horrible steel, if the design is good you will still have a pretty good knife on your hands. Also, there is a big difference between taking a trip to Southern China and having your pick of the litter, and the piles of junk that shows up in a lot of China town shops. And to your point also, as a general rule for everyone reading, if you pick up a carbon it will almost definitely be of a higher quality than the stainless ones. That's my experience at least.

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    I might add it was pointed out to me over there that most of the "younger generation" in China prefers a stainless cleaver with a western looking handle because they felt it was more "modern." I used one of these my host bought in a local kitchen store because she felt it was a really high quality blade. Worked fine for everything including chicken, pork and huge grass carp bones. I bought my own carbon models simply because I wanted something that looked traditional rather than pure practically.

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    Generally speaking, a carbon steel blade will be stronger and hold an edge longer than stainless. I have never had a carbon that needed the diamond treatment every use, but whatever works for you. I would steel my carbon Chukabochos on a smooth, hard tool steel every use, and a few passes on the fine stone every month or so. I have been exposed to a whole new level of sharpening here, and my whizzbang super Japanese cleaver does take and hold an edge like nothing I have ever seen in 30+ years of knife obsession-but I cannot say it really affects the relative culinary strata of Chinese food that I prepare. It is indicative of the design of the superior design of a Chukabocho that a bad one is still useable if wielded correctly. I have found myself using my cleavers more and more for general kitchen work, bringing out the full set of Tridents for something special-I still prefer my 20 inch hollow grind slicer if I am carving a steamboat for service in the dining room, but more often than not it is not worth opening and closing the case when the cleaver will do almost anything.

    Haxthe Cook CLEAVERS RULE!!!
    A barbeque believer will not profane pork by boiling, liquid-smoking, submeging in sous-vide, or affirm with those who do.

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    To quote Murray Carter, "no knife is ever as sharp as when it first comes off the stone." Every time you use it, you lose something, even it is very hard to detect at first. For me, it isn't a mater of how long can I make it work before resharpening, I would just rather have it at its peak any time I put it to use.
    I have plenty of the high end Japanese cleavers too, just seldom use them as I don't think most of them are as well designed and balanced for Chinese cooking as the Chinese ones.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Noodle Soup View Post
    I have plenty of the high end Japanese cleavers too, just seldom use them as I don't think most of them are as well designed and balanced for Chinese cooking as the Chinese ones.
    Huh?

    Jay

  10. #10
    Senior Member heirkb's Avatar
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    There is one thing about these cheapy carbon ones, though...they're super reactive! I keep trying to put a mustard patina on one that I just bought today and it just turns orange, which I assume is rust and not patina. How do you guys even use these things if they're so reactive?

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