Designs are more sustainable if they are multifunctional because one item can take the place of several items.
A Chinese Chef’s knife (or cai dao) is a good example of a multifunctional design.

Chinese Chef’s knife

Designs are more sustainable if they are multifunctional because one item can take the place of several items. A Chinese Chef’s knife (or cai dao) is a good example of a multifunctional design.

It’s versatility means it can be used in place of paring knives, vegetable knives, filleting knives and carving knives. The extra-sharp tip can peel the skin off ginger or bone out a duck. The wide flat of the blade can crush garlic and also acts as a scraper while the spine can pound meat. A cai dao can be used to create paper-thin slices of carrot and remove the skin from a fish.

The cai dao looks like a cleaver but it is not as sturdy and shouldn’t be used as one. A cleaver is more like a mini axe than a knife and is used for chopping through bones.

In comparison to a cleaver the cai dao is unexpectedly light and easy to use. It is as suitable for slicing a small shallot as it is a great chunk of meat. It can be used by everyone from chefs to beginners.

The cai dao is usually made of carbon steel which can keep a sharper, more robust edge than stainless steel. Carbon steel, which is what saw blades and many industrial tools are made of, must be cleaned, dried well and then lubricated with a little vegetable oil after use to stop it from rusting.

This video shows a chef carving Peking Duck with a cai dao.

Chinese Chef's Knife or Cai Dao