Most online cooking videos feature chef’s knives as the go-to tool for professional chefs. However, Chinese cooks usually prefer to use a Chinese cleaver for cutting, slicing, mincing, and dicing.
Does that mean the latter is the all-around better choice? Also, what’s the difference between the Chinese cleaver vs. chef knife?
The design of a Chinese cleaver makes it significantly different from a chef’s knife. A Chinese cleaver has a large, broad-surfaced, rectangular blade that is held firmly by a wooden handle.
As a result, it works well for slicing huge pieces of meat and bones. In contrast, a traditional chef’s knife is typically an 8-10 inch general purpose kitchen knife with evenly distributed weight, and a pointed blade curved upwards along its length.
In this guide, we’ll examine the functionality of these knives and their respective strong points. Additionally, we’ll weigh in on the recommended use for each of them.
Difference Between Chinese Cleaver & Chef’s Knife
1. The Blade Design
The Chinese cleaver differs significantly from a chef’s knife in that it has a much heavier and larger blade. The blade is usually made of carbon steel and has a rectangular shape with a wooden handle.
Therefore, switching to it from a smaller knife requires some adjustment, especially in terms of learning to hold it and re-adjusting based on the different centers of mass..
The Chinese cleaver typically weighs between eight and twelve ounces. It is one of the strongest and longest-lasting types of silverware. You can use it to cut through large pieces of meat and bone as well as other frozen foods thanks to the huge, broad blade and flat edge.
For these reasons, it is safe to say that the Chinese cleaver is tougher than the traditional chef’s knife.
Chef’s knives, on the other hand, are all-purpose knives used for chopping and slicing. Although high quality versions are constructed of high carbon stainless steel, they are commonly composed of stainless steel.
The largest part of a chef’s knife’s blade is its heel. And often, rivets hold the handle and blades together.
You can use them extensively, and learning the correct hand movements won’t take long. Furthermore, because these knives often measure no longer than eight inches, storing them is not a problem, nor is learning to work with them for hours.
As such, chef’s knives are lightweight and won’t elicit fatigue or impair your hand movements.
2. The Handle
Chinese cleavers usually have a shorter handle than their rectangular blades, which are usually large.
Most designs have a single metal piece that runs into the short handle. However, other varieties have an additional attached piece that is made of wood or plastic.
The purposeful design of the small handle allows the heavier, wider blade to perform thorough cuts through tougher things like frozen meats or bones due to the imbalance in weight.
However, keep in mind that the handle shouldn’t be too short since this would make the cleaver more difficult to use. Additionally, because of its shape, a Chinese cleaver with a solid grip is the best choice because mishaps are much less likely.
A chef’s knife, on the other hand, typically has a handle that is well balanced and complements the blade. These handles are typically made of wood, although some are also constructed of metal, plastic, or other composite materials.
There are rivets holding the blade in place since the blade’s steel typically reaches into the handle. Since chefs’ knives are the ones you use the most at home, they have sturdy handles made for comfort and daily usage.
Additionally, they are lightweight and simple to control, allowing you to use them for extended periods of time without feeling too worn out.
Chinese cleavers are sturdy, well-balanced choppers that work well for a variety of kitchen activities. You can use them to cut vegetables, large pieces of meat, frozen food, and other things.
Given their larger-than-average size, it could take some time to become used to dealing with them. So keep that in mind when purchasing and using one.
Furthermore, you should choose other knives, such as chef’s knives, rather than Chinese cleavers if you need to make accurate cuts because they have a more evenly distributed weight.
Chinese cleavers usually come in two forms: meat cleavers and vegetable cleavers. Hence, consider your needs if you’re only planning to get one at first. As for telling them apart, note that meat cleavers usually have a thicker blade and a sturdier handle.
On the other hand, look for a vegetable cleaver (AKA Chinese chef’s knife) if you seldom prepare meat or are a vegetarian.
These resemble chef’s knives more closely as they also have thin and small blades. However, they also feature rectangular designs. The front end of such a knife is usually thin, with a thicker rear portion.
Although Chinese chef’s knives excel at chopping and slicing, they can also be used to cut tender meats on occasion due to their sturdy construction. These versatile knives can be used for activities including slicing, dicing, and cutting.
A chef’s knife is also your best bet whenever you need to quickly mince garlic and herbs. In addition, they’re great for cutting things like ham, seafood, fruits, vegetables, dairy goods, etc. into slices while doing routine kitchen tasks.
You will be capable of preparing a variety of dishes using just a regular chef knife once you have some proficiency using the blade.
Wrapping Up: Chinese Cleaver Vs. Chef’s Knife in a Nutshell
Chinese cleavers and conventional chef knives are created for different purposes, and they are both effective in those tasks. Chinese cleavers are your greatest option if you need to cut through large portions of meat, bones, or even frozen food.
Their strong construction and heavy blades will expedite the process. But if you want a kitchen knife that can be used for anything, you should get a chef knife.