Victorinox’s Chinese Cleaver with walnut handle isn’t the butcher’s cleaver western chefs know. This lighter version of the butcher’s blade is the Asian equivalent of the chef’s knife, the workhorse blade that an expert uses to dance through nearly every common kitchen chore.
Smaller than you’d expect a cleaver to be (if you’re a westerner yourself), this lighter chopping and slicing knife has a strong blade eight inches long and three inches wide. Thinner steel blade stock makes the Chinese Cleaver a better slicer than the western types, but this knife is not made for chopping through bone. Use it like a santoku for slicing vegetables, or rock it over fresh herbs on a cutting board for rapid mincing. The convex edge allows an action similar to a mezzaluna and more balanced than a cook’s knife.
In an expert’s hands, the limits of this knife are few — but if you’ve not used one before, it will take some practice. To truly get the idea it’s best to watch someone who knows — which could literally be anyone who grew up around a Chinese kitchen. This is one of the most common and most valued knives in Asian food prep.
Construction of the R.H. Forschner Victorinox Chinese Cleaver is less bulletproof than the usual Victorinox style. A narrow rat tail tang inserted through a metal ferrule joins the turned walnut handle to the blade. This isn’t a dishwasher-proof knife, and even a long immersion in dishwater could cause the wood handle to first swell and then loosen. Wash the knife by hand in mild detergent.