Knowing how to use chopsticks will not only let you enjoy Asian dining style at its best, it can also introduce you to a smorgasbord of delectable Asian snacks and Asian cuisines that are best enjoyed – and that apparently taste better – with chopsticks.
Practice makes perfect when it comes in using chopsticks. It may look complicated at first, but the key to using chopsticks is actually simple: Keep the bottom chopstick still while the upper chopstick moves to grasp the food.
There are two (2) important points to remember for effective use of chopsticks. One is that the two lower ends (or tips) of the chopsticks must be even, that is, one must not protrude over the other. The other condition is that the two chopsticks must be in the same plane.
Step-by-Step Guide on How to Use Chopsticks
Place the first (lower) chopstick in the base of the thumb and index finger and rest its lower end below on the ring finger. This chopstick remains fixed.
Hold the other (upper) chopstick between the tips of the index and middle fingers, steady its upper half against the base of the index finger, and use the tips of the thumb to keep it in place.
Be sure the tips of the chopsticks are parallel
Keep the first chopstick in place as you practice moving the second chopstick toward the first chopstick
Use this technique to position the chopsticks around a piece of food
To pick up food, move the upper chopstick with index and middle fingers
Hold the food firmly as you lift it toward your mouth
With a little practice, you are sure to be able to use chopsticks with ease. Try using your training chopsticks, disposable chopsticks, or personalized chopsticks everyday with bite sizes of meat or vegetables, or with potato chips, marshmallows, and beans and you are sure to find yourself in no time loving the convenience of chopsticks as an eating utensil.
How to Split Disposable Wooden Chopsticks?
Chopsticks are frequently made of durable materials, like bamboo and wood. But if you are offered disposable wooden chopsticks, which are joined together at the tip, splitting them into two (2) is an important part of preparing them for use. To split or break disposable wooden chopsticks, bring it close to your lap for safety purposes and then follow the steps below to split your chopsticks:
Gently push one of the chopstick forward and other piece backward enough to create a cleavage in-between the joint portion that will aid you in breaking them apart.
Split your chopsticks by pushing one piece forward and pulling the other piece backward.
Being offered with disposable chopsticks is considered a form of hospitality in the Asian culture, so be sure to stock up on them when hosting a simple to lavish dinner. Avoid rubbing the holding part of the chopsticks with each other after breaking them as such is believed to communicate to the host that you are being offered with cheap quality disposable chopsticks. Aim to break your disposable chopsticks perfectly and politely ask for a replacement should you end up breaking them in uneven lengths.
How to Use Chopsticks with Soup?
In many parts of Asia, chopsticks are accompanied with spoons for sipping the liquid part of the soup. However in Japan and many Japanese restaurants, spoons are traditionally not used with soup, thus the proper ways to use chopsticks when eating soup must always be remembered to ensure everyone around the dining table enjoys his sumptuous offering:
Always take your food from the top.
Avoid holding the soup bowl and chopsticks with one hand.
Avoid stirring your soup which may look like you are washing your chopsticks on it.
Avoid digging your soup to find your favorite ingredient.
Japanese soup bowls are generally small, thus they can be easily cupped by the hands. It is perfectly normal to find the ingredients of your soup settling at the bottom of the bowl but you can always put down your chopsticks on the rest, lift the soup bowl, and drink the broth of the soup to gradually reveal the food that is still left on your delicious Japanese soup.
How to Use Chopsticks with Sushi?
Sushi is normally eaten by hand, unless they are served with a pair of chopsticks. To use chopsticks with sushi, avoid dropping the rice from your sushi and dipping sauce on rice, which makes it easy for rice to fall easily. When eating a large piece of sushi, separate the topping and the rice. Cut the rice in half, eat a part of it, and finish the remaining portion by wrapping the rice with the topping.
How to Use the Chopsticks Rest?
Chopstick rests refer to the small, usually decorative, tableware for resting chopsticks. In an Asian place setting, chopstick rests are normally placed on the right of the dinner plate so the chopsticks can be rested vertically with the handling portion facing the diner for easy access. In-between a meal, you can always free your hand, like when getting food for yourself, by placing your chopsticks on the rest. After the meal, simply return your chopsticks on the chopstick rest as they were when you started.
If your place setting has no chopstick rest, the Asian tradition is to either slip your chopsticks halfway into the paper sleeve after dining or to quickly make a paper chopstick rest out of your chopstick's paper sleeve. There are many ways to do this and two (2) of them are as follows:
Simple prism chopstick sleeve:
Fold the paper sleeve's length into half and then fold it again across its width so it can stand like a pyramid on the table top.
Bow paper chopstick sleeve:
First, fold approximately 1/3 of the paper sleeve by bringing its left end inward so the latter lies approximately 1/2-inch above the center of its length. Next, fold the right end of the paper sleeve inwards so it forms a cross with the previously folded end. Ensure that the length of the second fold you make is longer than the first so you can slip its end onto the back of the latter and finish a paper chopstick rest that is akin to the bow of a necktie.
If your place setting has no chopstick rest and chopstick sleeve, you can also place your chopsticks across the middle of the lowest bowl in your place setting after eating, like the soy saucer of a sushi plate setting. Young people, however, may only do this after their elders. When resting your chopsticks, remember to place them in such a way that none appears longer than the other.
The above give you the basic tips on how to use chopsticks with food. Meld your knowledge on them with our tips on the general chopsticks etiquette and chopsticks taboos in the Japanese culture to exquisitely dine in Asian style with grace and confidence.