When we enjoy a food, we want to learn how to eat it in the best possible way. With Asian dishes like noodles or Pho, it would be a shame if you don’t know how to use chopsticks properly. Don’t worry, with just a few simple steps, KITCHENBAR will help you discover the simplest way to use them.
Chopsticks Vary Across Cultures
Although chopsticks are popular in many Asian countries, each culture has its own way of using it. The first chopsticks were made of materials such as copper or bone and ivory, although such expensive materials are rarely used today.
To the Chinese, chopsticks are usually made from bamboo or plastic. Moreover, like a thin cylinder with a consistent diameter and blunt ends, they tend to have rounded edges. They have to be long because the Chinese like it. eat together while sharing a variety. Round table dishes. In contrast, the Japanese mostly use wooden chopsticks with tapered ends and shorter lengths – all better for handling foods that require more subtle movements, such as fish with bones.
On the other hand, Koreans like to make their eating utensils out of metal. Their wands have a flatter shape to reduce the amount of metal required and keep the sticks light enough for skillful handling. In addition, Korean chopsticks come in the form of a set with metal spoons, because Koreans often eat rice with a spoon, not with chopsticks.
How Chopsticks Made It to the Table
Many of us might think of chopsticks as pre-existing cutlery, but historically, eating with chopsticks is a relatively new addition to Chinese and Asian cuisine. Originally, chopsticks were mainly used to stir food while cooking, while spoons were the main tools when eating.
This is largely because for hundreds of years, millet was the most widely consumed grain in China – eaten like porridge with a spoon. Chopsticks had no place on the dinner table until the 10th century, when the advent of wheat and flour opened up exciting new avenues for Chinese cuisine. This gave birth to foods like dumplings as well as noodles, which are more convenient to eat with chopsticks than a spoon.
Using chopsticks to pick up food requires fine motor skills and brain-hand coordination, arguably more than using a fork and knife. Asian children learn to eat with chopsticks between the ages of 3-5, and there’s evidence that using chopsticks improves a child’s dexterity — which can help with brain development.
Around this time, rice also dominated the Chinese diet. Cooked rice is so sticky and lumpy that it can be transported from bowl to mouth with chopsticks, and spoons are quickly losing their title as the most popular eating utensil, as chopsticks are more versatile. Later, chopstick use spread to other Asian neighbors along with Chinese political influence and the travels of Buddhist monks.
It seems that during the Sui (581–618 AD) and Tang (618–690 AD) dynasties in China, ornate silver chopsticks became fashionable among the rich and powerful. Many people believe that silver will turn black if arsenic and other toxins are present in their food – but in reality, silver can actually change color if it comes in contact with many foods, including onions and garlic!
Given their long heritage, it’s no surprise that around 1.5 billion people still use chopsticks to eat every day. Most of these people are concentrated in the “chopstick culture” of Asia, but it is becoming increasingly common to enjoy all kinds of Asian cuisine in their home countries with chopsticks for people outside of the continent.
How to Use Chopsticks: Step-by-Step
- Step 1: Keep your dominant hand loose. People clutching their chopsticks often just end up splashing their food all over the place. Between your index finger and thumb, place the first chopstick in the valley. Balance it on your ring finger.
- Step 2: Place the second chopstick in the valley between the index finger and thumb along with the first chopstick, but place this chopstick on the middle finger instead of the ring finger.
- Step 3: Use your thumb, index and middle fingers to grip the second chopstick a little more tightly.
- Step 4: The first chopstick (at the bottom) remains more or less stationary. With the second chopstick, the middle and index fingers do all the heavy lifting. Let’s have a demonstration. (Our fridge is pretty sparse. So you don’t need chopsticks for this particular job, but it will have to be grapes).
- Step 5: Use your index and middle fingers to move the top chopstick up and down, opening the chopsticks up. And close them on the food. Remember to relax your hand but still have good control of the chopstick. When picking up heavier pieces of food, you will really be tested.
- Step 6: Once you’ve got the hang of it, go ahead and pick it up.
Important Tip: When moving chopsticks, one point to keep in mind is that the top chopsticks must move, while the bottom should generally stay still. If done correctly, you should be able to grasp small objects like a pea or a grain of rice at a time.
How to Use Chopsticks: Japanese Etiquette
You should also know some taboos related to chopsticks. On the side of the bowl, do not put chopsticks. This is called “watashi-bashi.” You also shouldn’t use chopsticks to pull dishes toward you, known as “yose-bashi”.
In Japan, it is also considered bad practice to pass food from one chopstick to another, or to stick it to a bowl of rice, as both are associated with funeral customs. In general, you should keep your chopsticks parallel and avoid crossing them.
How to Use Chopsticks: Vietnamese Rules
- Chopsticks have both right and wrong points. Matching points are used for food contact and others are for your handle. When using a pair of chopsticks, make sure you can say the right point. Those are the smaller points. Never accidentally mix two points of chopsticks when picking up food.
- Doesn’t make a sound when hitting a plate or bowl with chopsticks. It was the sound of beggars as they begged for food. Your landlord won’t be happy about that. Children are always told that chopsticks are not toys.
- Never place a pair of chopsticks upright on a steamed rice bowl. It was a sign of a funeral. Use a chopstick holder or simply place them on the tray when you’re not done eating.
- Don’t use chopsticks the way you use chopsticks to stick food. Always use both to pick up food. Put the food in your bowl then eat from the bowl.
- The same goes for when you want to cut some food. Do not use chopsticks as a knife to cut food. Use a spoon in this case.
- When you are about to take a particular food on the tray, do it in one go. Don’t hesitate and wave your chopsticks around the dish.
- Don’t put food in a bowl and return it. It’s been touched by your chopsticks and it wouldn’t be nice to return it. In this case, you have no choice but to eat what you have chosen.
- Don’t use chopsticsk to dig around shared dishes. Without mixing, pick up food from top to bottom.
- Never point someone’s finger with chopsticks during a meal. When you have a long talk, place your chopsticks down vertically on the tray on your right hand side.
- When others on the table are choosing food, don’t do it at the same time as them. Always wait until everyone has finished choosing your food before it’s your turn.
- The oldest person at the table will be the first to pick up the food before anyone else. It is considered rude to eat in front of him/her.
- It is very common for the host to serve the guests with chopsticks. In this case it is not polite to refuse that food. In this case, the guest doesn’t have much choice but to eat the dish no matter how much you hate it. If you are a vegetarian or have certain foods that you cannot eat, notify the host in advance of the meal.
- Do not use chopsticks to push bowls, plates or anything on the food tray.
- No matter how delicious the food is, don’t lick your chopsticks.
- Try not to drop anything when removing the food from the tray.
- Make sure you’ve eaten all the leftovers on your chopsticks before picking up other food.
- Do not use chopsticks as toothpicks.
What do you think about this article? KITCHENBAR hopes to help you learn how to use chopsticks the right way. Along with that, please note the rules and etiquette when using chopsticks. It’s a way to show respect for different cultures.