Using the Chinese Cleaver (Part 2)
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Using the Chinese Cleaver (Part 2) Preparation
Diagonal slicing is usually performed on cylindrical or semi-cylindrical vegetables such as celery, bok choy, beans, carrots, etc. It can also be performed on other vegetables or meats to give a more attractive effect to the finished cooked dish. Diagonal sliced vegetables have a larger cut surface area to be exposed for rapid cooking in the wok. By having this advantage, vegetables can be thoroughly cooked in a minimum of time and yet retain its bright natural colouration. Vegetables are also more nutritious cooked this way as a minimum of vitamins and minerals are lost in the cooking process. The only difference between diagonal cutting and straight cutting is that the knife is held in the hand so that it can cut the food at a 45 angle. The same motion as in straight cutting is employed. Most beginning wok cooks do not hold their foods so that the knife can cut it at a 45 angle. They have a tendency to hold it as for straight cutting because they are afraid of the knife. Again it must be emphasized that one should practice this cutting technique slowly at first. Speed will come as one gains experience. Dicing food means that it must be cut into cubes of uniform size. Decide on what size you wish your cubes to be. If you are stir-frying food in a wok, the maximum suggested size that a cube should be is about 3/4". This is so that the cubes can be cooked through without prolonged heating. In dicing foods, it is best to cut strips or slices, depending upon the shape of the food, the desired width of the cube. Slice these strips or slices into square strips. Lastly cut these strips or slices into cubes. Shredded food means that it has been cut into the shape of sticks. Depending upon the food, one may shred it into very fine sticks or coarse sticks. If a food requires lengthy cooking time, it is well to shred it finely. The less cooking time required for the food, the coarser the sticks may be. In shredding foods, one first straight slices the food. Stack several of the slices on top of one another. Straight slight through the stack in the same width as the slice. Mincing foods is a requirement that all Chinese cooks must know since so many native Chinese dishes require mincing. Raw meat is perhaps the most difficult food to mince finely. Before mincing meat, remove and discard all tough connective tissues from it. Coarsely dice the meat into 3/4" cubes. Add cubes of onions or whatever that is to be minced with it. Take your 4" Chinese cleaver or your heavy duty Chinese mincing cleaver and chop the cubes with a straight rhythmic up and down motion. Use the blade of the cleaver from time to time to consolidate the mass of meat together as you are mincing it. When the meat forms a mass, it is minced. Examine it to see if it is as finely minced as desired. If not, continue chopping until it meets your requirements. There are some other practical uses for you Chinese cleaver. The blade of it can be used for transporting cut foods either into a plate or directly into the wok from the cutting board. The Chinese cleaver can be turned sideways so that the blade can act as a mallet for pounding meats flat or for crushing cloves of garlic or ginger. The handle of it can be used for grinding or pulverizing salted beans or peppercorns. Like the wok, the Chinese cleaver is a multi-use implement. File ftp://ftp.idiscover.co.uk/pub/food/mealmaster/recipes/cc-wok.zip
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