Ban Rong Fong, a village in northern Thailand’s Phrae Province, used to produce the chains, metal shoes and other tack required when elephants were used for logging the province’s valuable teak trees. These days, other methods are used to transport logs, but the village’s metalworking legacy lives on. At Saiwattana Blacksmith, workers take leaf springs from disused cars, old tilling blades and railroad ties and shape and pound them into a variety of cutting instruments, most notably, knives designed specifically for making laap, northern Thailand’s emblematic dish of finely-minced meat.
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Northern Thais insist that laap, the region’s dish of chopped meat, dried spices and herbs must be finely minced – much finer than your supermarket or butcher is willing or able to do – and they also insist that the only way to do this is via a special tool. Designed especially for chopping laap, these knives feature a long, wide, relatively heavy, flat-tipped hard carbon steel blade that lets the length and heft do all the hard work. Northern Thai laap knives are made from recycled car and truck leaf springs, so the thickness and patina on these blades will vary with the blacksmith’s touch, as well as the mood of the guy in the village who lathes the handles. We’ve tweaked the design slightly here, shortening the blade for home cooks and opting for a beautifully unvarnished handle made from Burma padauk wood, resulting in a knife that also doubles as a cleaver.
US$50 Includes global shipping
Materials: Blade: carbon steel from car leaf springs; handle: Burma padauk wood
Dimensions: Blade: 21cm/8-¼”; handle: 18cm/7”
Weight: Approximately 525g (the gauge of leaf-spring carbon steel varies, therefore blade weight will also)
Care instructions: Carbon steel blades are harder and thus able to maintain their edge longer, but this means additional maintenance. With use and exposure to humid weather and oxygen, the blade of your laap knife will patina, darken and rust. Between uses, clean your blade with fine-grit sandpaper, finishing it with a thin coat of mineral oil. The natural resins in the unvarnished Burma padauk wood handle may emerge, leaving it to feel sticky; counter this by rubbing it with mineral or coconut oil; frequent use will also serve to season the wood.
An Important Note Regarding Shipping: We have successfully shipped knives to the United States, declaring them as "kitchen equipment," but certain countries' customs laws do not allow the import of knives.