One of my first posts was about choosing the right knife for you, but I tried not to endorse any one particular knife simply because I did not feel comfortable doing so at the time, but after receiving a new, cheap, knife as a gift a few months back I’m willing to do that.
The knife I received was a Joyce Chen Chinese style cleaver. Its simple, its effective, its affordable.
This is a good knife for simple every day use for a few reasons. Firstly its affordable. With a price tag right around $25 its not going to break anyone’s bank. Even if you buy it and hate it and completely disagree with me, you’re not out very much money. This also means you can beat the shit out of this knife and not feel to bad about it.
Secondly its solid. Its a HEAVY knife, this makes it very good for cutting through not only small delicate things like parsley or scallions, but also sturdy hard things like large pieces of beef or butternut squash.
Thirdly it takes an edge well. I run the edge 10 times, on each side, on a grinding wheel and that puts a damn nice functional edge on it. Its not going to be a razor sharp sharp edge that’ll make your brand new Gillette look like small potatoes, but it will get 99% of what you need done, done.
Lastly, it has a small handle. This sounds like a bad thing BUT when using a knife properly for slicing, dicing, ect you aren’t supposed to use the “handle” as a handle. The smaller handle will force beginners to hold the knife properly and prevent the number one newbie mistake of grabbing the knife like a joystick.
When holding a knife properly you should pinch the base of the blade between your thumb and the second knuckle of your index finger
The knife also has some cons as well, as is to be expected with a cheap knife, but I like these downsides because they’ll force a beginner to adapt and learn so when they graduate to an expensive high quality knife they’re ready to use it to its full potential.
The metal isn’t very high quality, this is why it takes an edge so well, because the metal is soft. This also means it will lose the edge quickly as well. Invest in a cheap sharpener, a simple manual convenience sharpener will do just fine. If you’ve got the dime and the time get a whetstone, waterstone, or a sharpening wheel.
Another con is that the knife rolls to one side when cutting through something, this is due the knife having a hollow ground blade, which is done so because its a cheaper manufacturing method. Why I like this for beginners is that it teaches you to control your knife. You can overcome this listing effect as you slice through something large with a firm grip and some conscious effort.
The last con is that the knife has a very thick spine that WILL be uncomfortable at first and will make your index finger sore, chaffed, and eventually calloused if you use it often. The upside to this is that once that callous is there it acts like armor and will prevent any future discomfort, especially when you move on to a higher quality knife with a thinner blade.
All in all this knife is a great knife for culinary newbies and veterans alike and I would highly recommend it to anyone in the market for an affordable piece of cutlery.