Meat and Vegetable Cleavers

Cleavers: What’s The Difference?

There are two types of cleavers used in the culinary industry. The more common cleaver includes the Meat cleaver, known as the main tool in the butcher’s kitchen. Then there is the vegetable cleaver, so what is the difference? Well, lets take a closer look.

Meat Cleavers

Meat cleavers are heavy, thick, and blunt. When we think of meat cleavers we picture a butcher shop that produces quality cuts of protein that will be turned into an incredible dish to share with people. If your first

Classic Shun Cutlery
Classic Shun Meat Cleaver

thought is serial killers from your favorite night-time television show, well then you’ll love my article on Shun knives used in the television show Hannibal.

Meat cleavers are designed to hack through bones. The heavy steel provides the extra force desired when working with protein and bones. When watching butchers work with band saw and even more so when a butcher has skill with a cleaver. The sad part is that the skill of a butcher seems to be more of a lost trade.

Vegetable Cleavers

Vegetable cleavers are different from meat cleavers and are more commonly used in Chinese and Japanese cuisine. There are actually two types of vegetable cleavers, the Japanese vegetable cleaver and the Chinese vegetable cleaver. Did you guess that? The vegetable cleaver are much lighter and slimmer than a meat cleaver. The Chinese vegetable cleaver is also known as the Chinese chef knife and looks more like a meat cleaver but more slender. The Chinese cleaver is used for chopping and slicing boneless meat and vegetables and mincing

Classic Shun Cutlery
Shun Classic Nakiri

and crushing herbs and aromatics. The Japanese vegetable cleaver are more rectangular shaped and have more of a rounded tip. Shun cutlery produces Japanese vegetable cleavers which come in two styles. The Nakiri which is a double beveled edge or usuba which is a single beveled edge.  When you buy a Shun knife you can purchase these two styles depending on the need of the chef. The Japanese vegetable cleaver is smaller than the Chinese cleaver and is designed to chop and slice vegetables with fine precision.

In Conclusion

The Japanese cleaver is more rounded on the tip which is important to consider because the more squared tip will cause more damage to your cutting board. Also consider looking for a light weight vegetable cleaver to provide a better cut. The heavier knife will do more tearing than slicing, which is what the meat cleaver is known to do. Meat cleavers are heavier and are designed to hack through bones. Vegetable cleaver are smaller and thinner and come in two different styles. Now get out there and start cooking.

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