Chopsticks Buying Guide

"Blasphemy!" I say to the one who forks and knives  our tenderly sliced fish! "Alert the authorities, for our chefs have been wronged and our bounty has been eaten in the most irreverent manner: with a fork !" I hear the angered murmur of the chef as he espies the western cutlery . "This situation must be rectified, the criminals must pay for their insult! Off with their hands! Illegal you say? Well then, at the very least teach them to eat using the appropriate utensils : those specifically designed with a delicate and rare ability to frustrate the masses."

Cooking or eating Asian cuisine is not a success unless it is done properly; for this we must master the chopstick . 

Using Chopsticks

  • Chopsticks should be held parallel to each other, at the thick end between the thumb and fingers of your right hand. 
  • Nestle your lower chopstick in between thumb and forefinger.
  • Steady the lower chopstick with your ring and pinky fingers.
  • Place the upper chopstick between your middle and index fingers, as if you are going to write with it.
  • Guide the upper chopstick towards the stationary lower one with your thumb. 
  • Making a motion similar to that made with tongs , pick up the food and bring it to your mouth. Chew.

Basic Chopstick Etiquette 

  • Although left hand eating is not punishable by death, it may offend traditionalists--fortunately there are not many traditionalists left. Cheat if you must, but know your audience.
  • When finished eating, place chopsticks on a chopstick rest, or if using disposable chopsticks, roll the paper in which they came, make a cylindrical paper rest, and lay the thin side of the chopsticks (the part that touches the food) upon it.
  • Chopsticks are not used for transferring food from individual plates or for digging food out of a common plate. Please do not move plates with your chopsticks.
  • Do not leave chopsticks standing vertically in your bowl or plate. This is reminiscent of a traditional offering to the dead, sometimes as part of a funeral ceremony.
  • Do not spear food with your chopsticks in an attempt to make it easier to eat. This is poor etiquette.
  • Playing with chopsticks in any way is considered crude and tasteless.
  • Please do not stick chopsticks up your nose; they are not picking devices, not even for food.
  • Keep in mind that different cultures may have variations or additions to these rules.

Buying Your Own Chopsticks

Now that you have perfected the high art of chopstick usage, you may want to invite your friends and family over to see your skills. While shopping for your chopsticks grab an Asian cookbook ; although using chopsticks for rump steak and mash would be impressive, it is not a foolproof plan. If your guests have no idea what they are doing, be sure to buy enough sets so that the embarrassment is evenly distributed.

Different Types of Chopsticks:

Note: Length and shape of chopsticks depend upon the country from which they originate. The material used to construct chopsticks also varies according to this factor.

Bamboo  and Wood Chopsticks 

  • Cost efficient.
  • Low in temperature conduction.
  • Innate anti-bacterial properties.
  • Best for grasping food.
  • Can be lacquered for water resistance.
  • Can be painted (then lacquered) to match any décor.
  • Although reusable (if lacquered), they tend to have a short lifespan.

Plastic Chopsticks 

  • Cost efficient
  • Low in temperature conduction.
  • Less efficient than wood for grasping food.
  • Cannot be used for cooking since plastic will melt and contaminate food.
  • Long lifespan (unless they melt while cooking a meal you hopefully did not eat).

Metal Chopsticks 

  • More expensive than wood, bamboo, or plastic.
  • High in temperature conduction.
  • Less efficient than wood for grasping food.
  • Long lifespan--can be used repeatedly without signs of wear.
  • Cost efficient

Ivory , Jade , Gold , and Silver Chopsticks 

  • Expensive.
  • Depending upon material, typically high in temperature conduction.
  • Used as luxury chopsticks.
  • Not suitable for everyday use.
  • Less efficient than wood for grasping food.

Chopstick Accessories

Chopstick Rests 

  • Put chopsticks on these rests in between breaks or when you are done eating.
  • Constructed in materials such as wood, metal, porcelain, and ceramic.
  • Available in matching sets  or sold individually .

Chopstick Sleeves 

  • Used to house chopsticks.
  • Avoids the mismatched and lone utensils that result from poor storage.

Taking Care of your Chopsticks

Do not place chopsticks in the dishwasher  because it can damage them, making their durability much weaker. It is advisable that all chopsticks and chopstick rests be hand washed using light dish soap .

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