Oct 9, 2011

Day 2/180: My cleaver

I'll be making a stir-fry tonight. I'll post the recipe later, but here are the basic ingredients. Yes, those are leeks.

Right now I'd like to talk about my funky, old, but perfect cleaver. I've been trying to remember how long ago I got it. I bought it in Boston's Chinatown at one of the small groceries while I was working as a technical writer a few blocks away. It must have been in about 1993. That makes it 18 years old. I remember that when I bought it, it was the cheapest knife in the kitchen, about a quarter of the price of a Cutco utility knife (or whatever they're calling it these days). I think it came packaged with an utterly useless round cutting board.

It is my kitchen tool of choice. It's heavy but handles well and takes an edge beautifully with just a stroke or two of a steel. That's because it is made of mild steel. It discolors, but a little elbow grease usually takes care of that.

It has survived my wife drowning it in the sink and using it as a hammer. It has been lost, then found covered with rust, had the rust scrubbed off, been sharpened and oiled and been good as new. One of these days I'll have to spend some time to try to get rid of a nick in the blade.

In times past I used it on all types of food. I used the spine to tenderize beef, and the flat to beat chicken breasts into thin sheets. I've always used it for vegetables too. I can julienne, make rolling cuts, use the flat to smash garlic then mince it with the blade. I have big hands so the wide blade makes it easy to guide the blade with my knuckles when I'm doing thin slices.

A few weeks ago I gave it a good scrubbing, sharpened it, oiled it and gave orders that it was for my use only. No more meat for this cleaver.

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