Chopsticks are an extremely versatile piece of kitchen equipment as they are used to eat pretty much anything.
Originating from Chinese culture, chopsticks are used to pick up all kinds of food and once you get the hang of it, they are extremely easy to use. They are also a lot more interesting to use than a knife and fork!
If you want to learn how to use chopsticks (see also, ‘How to Use Chopsticks for Kids‘), it is a great skill to learn that will stay with you for life. It will also allow you to immerse yourself in Chinese and Japanese culture when eating (see also, ‘What do the Japanese Say Before Eating?‘) out as you will be able to eat with the proper utensils that the food was made to be eaten with.
Below you will find an easy guide on how to hold chopsticks. This will teach you how to use these utensils so that you can begin to ditch the knife and fork and fully experience Chinese and Japanese culture (see also ‘How To Sharpen A Japanese Knife‘).
Why Are Chopsticks Used?
We’ve all heard of chopsticks, but we may not know exactly why they were originally used in the first place. Yin, in the Henan Province of China, provides the first known set of bronze chopsticks that were found in a tomb.
This set of chopsticks is the earliest set known to have been used, but they weren’t always designed to be eaten with.
Originally, chopsticks were used as cooking utensils as they were long enough to reach right to the bottom of deep boiling pots that couldn’t be reached any other way.
However, in A.D. 400, there was a significant increase in the Chinese population that forced people to come up with ways of saving money. This meant that food was made smaller, and the smaller pieces were perfectly sized to be picked up by the chopsticks.
The more popular that chopsticks became, the less need there was for knives. Confucius, a politician and philosopher, believed that knives would increase violence in homes if they were used to eat with, which saw the popularity of chopsticks boom across China.
That’s how chopsticks became so popular in China! The bamboo chopsticks that we know and love today originated from Japan in 1878 before taking over the world today!
How To Hold Chopsticks
This guide will help you master using chopsticks in no time. No more eating dumplings (see also ‘Are Gyozas Gluten-Free?‘) and noodles with a fork, chopsticks will be your chosen cutlery of choice from now on. This is how to hold chopsticks.
Firstly, pick up one of your chopsticks and hold it between your middle finger and ring finger while it is resting on the base of your thumb.
Next, get your other chopstick. With this one, you are going to hold it similarly to how you hold a pencil. Hold it around one-third away from the top and let it comfortably rest as a pencil would.
After you have placed your chopsticks in the correct position, you can start picking up food! Move the upper chopstick with your thumb, middle finger, and index finger. This will move the chopstick in a motion where you will be able to pick things up with them.
That is how you hold chopsticks! It may feel uncomfortable, to begin with, if you are not used to holding them, but the more you practice, the easier they will be to use. If you never want to use a fork again, we understand!
Why Use Chopsticks?
Chinese and Japanese food is made to be eaten with chopsticks, so it is a given that you consume these foods without your new chopsticks skills. However, there are also other benefits of using chopsticks that you may not have considered before.
Using chopsticks helps you to improve your coordination and can be useful training for your body and brain.
By using chopsticks, your precision of movement will become more developed as your brain will constantly be working throughout your entire meal when using chopsticks.
They are more technical than using a knife and fork as your brain is working to precisely hold the food in between the chopsticks.
Being kind to the environment is extremely important in this day and age. Chopsticks are mainly made from eco-friendly materials like bamboo, which has a much more positive effect on the environment compared to plastic cutlery that is difficult to use and easy to break.
Plastic cutlery is extremely harmful to the environment and there has been a huge decline in plastic use over the years, so bamboo chopsticks all the way!
Reduced Choking Risk
Although you still need to be mindful when eating with chopsticks as you do when you are using a knife, fork, or spoon, smaller portions of food are picked up by chopsticks which can result in fewer choking incidents.
With noodles, you still need to be careful that you don’t pick up more than you can chew, but with sushi, you can pick up just enough for a mouthful.
To conclude, using chopsticks takes some practice, but they will soon become extremely easy to use. As chopsticks have been designed to consume Chinese and Japanese food, they are the perfect utensils to use to eat these meals.
Although using chopsticks seems difficult at first, they are really easy to use once you have practiced using them a few times.
Chopsticks are extremely environmentally friendly as they are made out of eco-friendly materials as opposed to plastic cutlery that has seen a significant decline over the years.
As you hold one of the chopsticks the same way that you hold a pencil, learning how to move the chopsticks will become second nature in no time!
Finally, it may not seem like it, but using chopsticks can help benefit your coordination techniques between your brain and your body (for more surprising health benefits of using chopsticks, read here) .
You may see chopsticks solely as eating utensils, but they have an incredibly interesting history, are very environmentally friendly, and will become super easy to use in no time!