A Cleaver Is Your Go-To Kitchen Tool For Perfectly Textured Shrimp Toast

Cleavers can do everything from scaling fish and butterflying poultry to cleanly chopping through chicken bones and pounding meat. But did you know that the flat side of this versatile knife makes it ideal for mincing shrimp too? Yes, that imposing cleaver in your utensil drawer should be your go-to kitchen tool for making perfectly textured shrimp toast every time.

With its wide surface area, flat blade, and razor-sharp edge a cleaver is excellent for preparing shrimp toast that boasts that classic, tender consistency in the middle and crispy, golden exterior. Simply use the edge of the knife to prep the shrimp into a textured paste, as seen in a video shared on TikTok by America's Test Kitchen.

Start by chopping the shrimp into small pieces before sharply bashing the flat side of the cleaver on them to flatten them further. Then slightly elevate your knife on the blunt side and keep the sharp edge against the pile of shrimp on the chopping board. Place your free hand on the butt of the handle to avoid cutting your fingers and press down firmly on the shrimp with the blade, while moving the knife away from yourself to mash it gently. Bring the knife back to its original position and repeat this smearing process until the shrimp has turned into a chunky paste. Finally, add your flavorings and spread your shrimp mixture onto your bread before topping with sesame seeds and frying.

Why use a cleaver instead of a processor?

In many cases, it's speedier and more convenient to use a cleaver to mince small amounts of ingredients into a paste than employing a blender or an unwieldy pestle and mortar. Both of these items also need to be washed well afterward to rid them of the fishy smell of fresh shrimp whereas a cleaver can be cleaned quickly under the tap with little fuss. The large surface area and the broad edge of a cleaver also make it useful for neatly scraping and scooping the shrimp paste off the chopping board and transferring it directly into a bowl so that you can mix in other ingredients, such as soy sauce and scallions.

Aside from making perfectly textured shrimp, a cleaver is also handy for chopping and mashing cloves of garlic, fresh ginger, lemongrass, scallions, and chilies. The smearing process releases their natural oils and flavors, leaving you with a chunky, fragrant paste. Your aromatic blend can then be scooped onto the flat surface of your knife and added directly into hot woks and karahis to make Thai curries and South Asian masalas. So, isn't it about time you used that hulking cleaver in your utensil drawer to do more than joint chicken? It's a chopping, mincing, mashing, and tenderizing machine that doesn't need batteries.