Cooking tips on Chinese Knifes and Chinese Cleavers
Wok cooking is very easy if you use the correct utensils and two of those are the Chinese knife and the Chinese cleaver.
A little about Chinese knives:
Chinese knives come in 3 weights: big, medium and small. They are composed of a thick blade of carbon or stainless steel with a wooden-handle. The most popular size, medium in weight, is about 4-inches in height and 10-inches in blade width. It works great for many purposes such as slicing, shredding, chopping and mincing ingredients. The side of the blade is also used for smashing garlic, etc.
Knife blades come in different types of steels. Carbon steel is the easiest to sharpen, however, some readers have suggested that, once sharpened, stainless steel tends to stay sharp longer.
To sharpen a knife, hold the blade with both hands at about a 20-degree angle over a whetstone. Sharpen the entire length of blade in a circular motion. Whetstones are available in any Asian grocery stores.
Interestingly enough, to “cleave” can mean either “to split apart” or “to adhere.” In food preparation, using a cleaver means, obviously, to split apart.
There is a big difference between meat cleavers and Chinese cleavers. Meat cleavers have very thick blades that are not very sharp; they are meant to be used for splitting bone and don’t work well at all for fine cutting or chopping. Never sharpen them to a razor’s edge; follow the angle of the original grind to sharpen correctly.
Chinese cleavers are the Asian version of the French chef knife. They must not be used for chopping bone, since that would destroy (chip, knick, bend) the edge. Sharpen them as you would a chef knife. After a while you can find many uses for a Chinese cleaver. I use mine to cut pizzas and slicing down slabs of fudge when I am in my frenzied candy making mode!
I find these utensils valuable in wok cooking which is very easy.
Let us re-cap wok cooking:
Always stir fry at oil’s smoking point for the quickest stir-fry possible. Remember speed is of the essence. Follow these few simple steps to the perfect stir-fry every time
1. Prepare your ingredients ahead of time. That includes washing and chopping them up.
2. Add a good amount of oil into the wok – 3 to 5 tablespoons recommended.
3. Turn the heat on highest, and wait until the smoking point.
4. Add in any spices you have first such as garlic, ginger, or chilies.
5. Add in your ingredients according to density. Always stir-fry meat first. If you plan on mix frying dense veggies such as broccoli or cauliflower, blanch or parboil these veggies first.
6. Add in your seasonings such as salt, sugar, hot sauce, etc…
7. Stir-fry only to the point where the ingredients are just cooked and NO longer.
8. Dish up and serve while hot.