Three years ago I moved to Beijing, a Chinese-American cook schooled stateside, without my fancy French knives. So I purchased a basic cleaver out of necessity. It was awkward to use at first, but I soon found that I can scale fish, peel vegetables, and smash, chop, slice, and mince just about every edible that crosses my cutting board. I can also ferry whatever I’ve chopped to the wok on the cleaver’s broad blade. Though I’ve gradually rebuilt my collection of knives, I still love my inexpensive, multitasking cleaver.

8-inch Cleaver, $14.59 at