How To Use Chopsticks – Rhonda Parkinson is a freelance writer who has written many cookbooks, including two everything-in-ones guides to Chinese cooking.
Chopsticks have been used as an important food utensil in China for centuries. In fact, chopsticks were first invented in ancient China, before their use spread to other East Asian countries, including Japan and Korea. Later, chopsticks spread to places like Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan, and the Philippines, thanks to Chinese immigrants living there, as well as China’s growing cultural influence in the region. The earliest evidence of chopsticks suggests that they were probably used as a cooking and perhaps serving tool rather than a main dining utensil, but over time chopsticks – along with spoons – became table essentials. They became Chinese diners.
How To Use Chopsticks
Like many cultures, proper table manners are of great importance to the Chinese. While there are many basic rules of chopstick etiquette and general etiquette, learning to use chopsticks properly is one of the most important.
Infographic: Etiquette For Using Chopsticks
Always cut the chopsticks in half and make sure the ends are even and not crossed. Take a chopstick and hold it so that it fits comfortably between the tip of the fourth finger (ring finger) and the space between the thumb and index finger. Keep the fourth finger straight. This will be the lower chopstick.
Now take the other chopstick and place it on top of it, firmly between the tips of your thumb, index and middle fingers. The index and middle fingers should be curved. Note: Children often find it easier to hold chopsticks lower than in the middle.
To pick up the food, extend your index and middle finger as far as necessary so that the upper chopstick moves outward. Take the food and bring the chopsticks together by curling the index and middle fingers. The basic idea is to use the chopstick as the pivot point, with the thumb as the pivot point.
When eating, always keep the lower chopstick steady and use the upper chopstick to maneuver and pick up the food.
Watch A Sushi Chef Demonstrate How To Master Chopsticks
Lift the food to the mouth and lean forward if necessary. For foods with bones (such as chicken), hold the food with chopsticks and eat around the bone.
Although most Americans are familiar with the wooden or even plastic chopsticks offered at their favorite Asian restaurants, chopsticks were traditionally made from a variety of materials, including bamboo and stainless steel. They are also made of ivory, jade, porcelain and even gold. The style of chopsticks varies from country to country, with different preferences for length and shape. In China, people prefer longer and thicker styles up to 25 cm (about 10 inches).
By clicking “Accept all cookies”, you consent to cookies being stored on your device to improve site navigation, analyze site usage and assist our marketing efforts. In my first cultural post on Chinese food related topics, I will discuss the most basic concept of Asian cuisine: chopsticks. Find out all about what chopsticks are, what they mean, how to use them, as well as some background information.
It was strange to me that billions of people across Asia still used chopsticks to eat. To my western mind, the knives and forks that were readily available were much more practical. As I have slowly become more familiar with Chinese food and more importantly Chinese culture, chopsticks have become very meaningful.
A Beginner’s Guide To Using Chopsticks
Earlier this year, fashion giant Dolce & Gabbana made a huge mistake by releasing a controversial ad that stereotyped its biggest audience. The film, which features a Chinese woman struggling with chopsticks to eat pizza and spaghetti, has been accused of racism and led to the cancellation of their screening in Shanghai. Using chopsticks as a lazy racist slur (which led to a nationwide boycott of D&G products), the whole episode showed how integral these eating utensils are to Chinese identity.
Let’s go back a few centuries to about 400 AD, when people in Asia really started using chopsticks to eat. Before this, archaeological remains show that large utensils such as chopsticks were used mainly during the cooking process, which is still common in modern Japan. As China’s population grew, people had to cut back on fuel and cut food into smaller pieces to cook faster. Ubiquitous even in contemporary Chinese cuisine, these bite-sized morsels eat themselves perfectly with a small amount of chopsticks.
There is much speculation as to why chopsticks slowly became embedded in Chinese culture over the following centuries. Some attribute it to the vegetarian Confucius, who hated table knives because they reminded him of killing animals. Most likely, the agricultural revolution made grain foods more important than grain-free foods in meals. Thus, the chopsticks that come together to pick up bunches of fluffy rice from a bowl became a symbol of Chinese food.
The first time someone taught me how to use chopsticks, they showed me an example that made it much easier to understand. I’ll try to show you here and be as true to that lesson as possible: you’ll kill the Maltese in no time!
Why Do Chinese Use Chopsticks? Dive Into A Tasty Tradition!
1. Place the thumb, forefinger, and middle finger of your dominant hand vertically, as if to indicate the number three. Bend your third finger and little finger down. Keep your hand still.
2. Take a chopstick. Place it between the knuckle and where the index finger on your dominant hand begins. The chopstick should pass through your hand and rest on the top joint of your fourth finger. Hold the chopstick firmly here so that it does not move.
3. Remove the other chopstick. Gently place it between the tip of your thumb and index finger and the top center of the first chopstick, holding it as if it were a pencil. It is the chopstick that should move freely.
Move the upper chopstick up and down with your index and middle finger until the pointed end meets the tip of the lower chopstick. Voila! Now you can eat like a pro!
Mistakes You Might Be Making When Using Chopsticks
The reason chopsticks stick around for so long is the finesse they give the user when eating – you can’t put too many in your mouth at once, and when you pick up chunks from a serving plate it’s just as easy. They are not messy. The Chinese are very proud of this. There are many unspoken rules about using chopsticks, many of which depend on the environment in which you are eating. The main nines in all fields are as follows:
Just like knives and forks, chopsticks come in different shapes, sizes and materials. Some of them are even sold as decoration and not for use. In museums, you can see beautiful examples of china and gold. Chopsticks are also different in Asian countries. Regular Chinese chopsticks are longer and thicker than Japanese or Korean chopsticks, and the ends are smooth and flat. They are usually made of bamboo or plastic and have square edges instead of round ones. Although I personally prefer Japanese chopsticks made of wood with tapered ends, which are easier to use for chopping food.
You can find chopsticks in most Asian markets. When it comes to food design and photography, or if I want to buy a gift, I go to a Japanese store for a more luxurious purchase. You can also find them on Amazon. There are even practice chopsticks for kids and chopsticks for adults!
One interesting thing I’ve noticed is that more young people are buying stainless steel or titanium chopsticks (like traditional Korean chopsticks) as part of an effort to reduce their waste footprint. Since you no longer need disposable plastic cutlery, these handy accessories make eating on the go super convenient, and you can even store them compactly next to your stainless steel straws.
Ten Thousand Ways To Use Chopsticks
After you start using chopsticks on a daily basis, you will realize that Chinese food is actually better eaten this way than with a knife and fork. Instead of chasing the last bean around your plate with a spoon, use a pair of chopsticks to quickly eat it from the bowl and reduce the embarrassment!
Hi, I’m Maggie Zoe! Welcome to my site about modern Chinese food – including street food, family recipes and restaurant food. I choose a method that is less work, while maintaining the taste and appearance of the dish. I am originally from Beijing and now cook from my kitchen in New York. I am a chopstick specialist. Maybe I can write a textbook on this subject. The way I see it, there are two types of people in this world: those who use chopsticks and those who don’t. If you’re one of the latter, you should definitely invest in a pair and start using them right away! It will change your life (and maybe even improve your attitude). If you already know how to use chopsticks, but want to learn more ways to get the most out of them, read on:
If you are right-handed and want to use chopsticks, pick them up with your right hand first. It should be your left hand