If you are looking for a bone-chopping cleaver, you have several choices. Best, in my opinion, is to go to a sizable Chinatown and specifically to a Chinese hardware store or the kitchenware counter of a large grocery and get an inexpensive cleaver that looks in profile much like the everyday Chinese vegetable cleaver pictured above, but which has a discernably thicker blade. There are several styles of this type of cleaver on the market, and the one I favor has a wooden handle and a dull finish blade that will not rust. The handle is notched for easy gripping, and the blade is honed about ¼ inch from the edge. When you hold this cleaver loosely in your hand, the tip should fall immediately downward if it is properly weighted. This cleaver will feel awkwardly heavy in your hand, like a hatchet you might use for chopping firewood.
Another choice, if you already have one, is to use a Western cook’s cleaver of the sort pictured. While it does not have the dimensions of a heavyweight Chinese cleaver, it will accomplish the job of chopping bones. If you do not already have one, do not buy it for Chinese purposes. You get a lot of style for a lot of money, but the task can be done better for a third of the price.
© 1982 Barbara Tropp estate. All rights reserved.