Chinese cleaver catagories

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Sep 16, 2020
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from what i knew there are 3 types of Chinese cleavers
#1 bone cleaver
#2 multipurpose cleaver
#3 a vegetable cleaver

a Chinese chef told me there is another type of cleaver called "Mulberry Knife/cleaver"
what do you know about this?

what is the difference between a "Mulberry Knife/cleaver" and a regular Chinese vegetable cleaver?

which one is better for only cutting vegetables ?
Mar 11, 2018
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Richmond, VA
A mulberry knife was originally designed to cut mulberry leaves into thin slices for silkworms to eat. I can't tell that it means much of anything anymore. Knives listed for sale as mulberry Chinese cleavers on the web run the gamut from smaller super thin slicers to giant meat bone cleavers.

Been a while since we had a Cleaver chat.

I would say there are only two kinds of cleavers in my mind. Cleavers that can go through bone. And those that can't. It does not make any sense to distinguish between "veggie" cleavers and "multipurpose" cleavers. For someone else who is very familiar with Asian cuisine, there might be twenty different categories of cleavers that readily pop into their mind. But don't get too caught up in the names. For any kind of knives. That's mostly marketing. Pick a profile and length and weight that you think you will like and try it out.
Dec 27, 2021
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I think there is a misunderstanding about cleavers here, the difference between most Japanese made cleaver and Chinese made cleaver is not their thickness or their belly, it lies in their grind. The CCK 1302/1303 and KF1912 that's popular among a lot of people is a style of cleaver called Sang Dao/桑刀, it is mostly used in Cantonese cuisine but gained popularity nation wide. The characters of Sang Daos are their thin grind and narrower rectangular shape with a flatter edge than most. Since the early Chinese immigrants to west has been overwhelmingly Cantonese and Honkongese, they bring their cuisine and their knives, it become the standard Chinese cleaver, the Dexter cleaver thats popular in North Americas is based on the Cantonese Shape.

In contrast, while there are Cantonese immigrants to Japan, Chinese cuisine regained popularity in Japan after WW 2 after many Japanese soldiers and settlers returned from Northern China, brought with them things like Gyoza. One of the people who reshaped Chuka Ryori (Japanese Chinese cuisine) is Chen kenmin and his son Chen Kenichi, both of them specialized in Sichuanese cuisine and use Sichuanese style cleaver subsequently.

Now back to the Japanese made cleavers, most of them are modeled after a more workhorse styled knife called Pian Dao/片刀, which is used in most regional Chinese cuisine, some have more belly some does not, some has rounded head or heel depends on the region. The popularity of Northern and Sichuanese Chinese cuisine made Pian Dao much more popular in professional kitchen, most of Japanese produced Chinese cleavers are made in this style. The main difference is that high end Japanese cleavers will usually have a convex grind at the edge like Sugimoto and Ginga, whereas traditional Chinese Cleavers will have a full V flat grind.

There is also a cleaver that's more ubitiqous in China, Zhan Qie Dao /斩切刀 or Wen Wu Dao/文武刀, those are truly all purpose cleaver with different angle at front and the back for veggies and small bones. However like most things all purpose they excel at neither.

Here's some pictures
Typical Sang Dao
View attachment 163546
A sub variation of Sang Dao that's specialized for slicing beef

View attachment 163547
Sichuanese Pian Dao by Deng Jia with some belly
View attachment 163548
A Beijinese Zhan Qie Dao by Wang Ma Zi
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A Shanghaiese Pian Dao with rounded head
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Traditional Chinese grind
View attachment 163551
Just gonna insert this here, Mulberry Knife is sub category of Pian Dao/ slicing knife, used more in Southern Chinese and Cantonese cuisine.
Apr 14, 2011
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There are always a lot of variations and interpretations among all three of those categories. poultry bone choppers are not the same as the cleavers they use to process ox tail and whole hogs.