Author: Baiku Sushi Blog
Attention, all Asian cuisine fans: Tuesday, February 6 is National Chopsticks Day! While some people may find it odd to use sticks to help us eat, these utensils have been around for centuries, long before the fork was invented. Perhaps you might feel intimidated when you see a pair of wooden or porcelain sticks at your favorite Japanese eatery and reach for the fork instead.
Put that fork down! Chopsticks aren’t as tough to use as you might think. In fact, with a little bit of practice and by using the proper techniques, you can easily master this culinary art.
Here are 9 tips to help you become a chopsticks master!
Use Them for Their Intended Purpose – Contrary to their name, these instruments are not used for chopping or sticking. Piercing food with them is seen as a rude gesture. Instead, use them to gingerly pick up sashimi, sushi, and ginger.
Treat Them With Care – Even if they’re disposable, you should always treat your utensils with respect. To break apart wooden chopsticks, take the tips in your hands and pull them apart like a wishbone. Also, resist the urge to rub them together – this is seen as impolite.
They’re for Eating, Not for Pointing – Or gesturing. Or waving around. Or anything else that isn’t eating or transferring food from a shared dish to your own plate. You get the picture.
Don’t Eat Straight from Shared Plates – Speaking of shared dishes, your server will typically give you your own separate saucer along with the large platter that’s topped with sushi. That plate isn’t there just for fun. To be a real master of etiquette, take food from the common dish, place it on your own plate, and then eat it. It’s considered polite.
Refrain from Passing Food – As tempting as it might seem, stop yourself from passing to or receiving food from someone else’s chopsticks. This action symbolizes a funeral ritual and is seen as disrespectful. Instead, use the thick ends of the sticks to take food from the shared plate in front of you.
Use Your Chopstick Holder – Have you ever wondered what that small rectangular dish is for in Japanese restaurants? It’s for you to rest your chopsticks on when you aren’t eating, so be sure to use it!
Don’t Leave Them Standing in Your Food – Never jab your chopsticks into a bowl of rice or food and leave them standing upright. It symbolizes another funeral ritual, which is leaving incense or a bowl of rice with a pair of chopsticks placed upright as an offering to the dead. Use your holder if you need to put your utensils down.
Eat It in One Bite – Your sushi chef takes great care to create the perfect bite-sized piece of sushi. To experience the chef’s complete blend of flavors, try eating your sushi in one bite. Trust us, it tastes so much better this way.
Finish the Meal Properly – Done with your meal? Go ahead and place your chopsticks horizontally on top of your bowl or plate. Unlike the fork and knife, don’t cross your utensils after a meal. It’s seen as a symbol of death.
Don’t know how to hold chopsticks? Check out our handy guide below!
- Place one stick in between your thumb and index finger, keeping your hand nice and loose. You can balance it on your ring finger to help maintain proper leverage.
- Position the second stick in the second location, but rest it on your middle finger.
- Treat your chopsticks as pincers by using your thumb, index, and middle fingers to pick up your food. Remember, the bottom stick will remain stationary overall while the top one will do most of the work.
- Keep practicing and don’t be afraid to fail. Eventually, you will get the hang of it, just like when you learned to use the fork, spoon, and knife.
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