If you’ve never used chopsticks, they can seem a little daunting at first. Different from the Western cutlery order, chopsticks are a great utensil to use when you’re eating an Asian meal in a restaurant or at home. If you’re hosting an Asian cuisine dinner party, there’s nothing more fun than laying out chopsticks for all of your guests to use. But where do you begin and what’s the proper etiquette? We’ve collected the best tips and tricks so that you can learn how to eat with chopsticks.
In Asian countries, chopsticks are used for most dishes. Whether you’re eating rice, dumplings or noodles, people will be using chopsticks to eat. Soup is traditionally eaten with a large, deep and often ceramic spoon.
When rice is not sticky, it can be very hard to eat it with chopsticks. In most Asian countries, it’s fine to lift your bowl to the mouth to make it easier. Try not to poke food onto the sticks as that’s not considered proper etiquette. Larger chunks of food that would need cutting are usually lifted to the mouth when you eat with chopsticks and then nibbled on bite by bite.
If you’re eating Japanese food with chopsticks, bear in mind that most types of sushi can be eaten using your hands. The exception is sashimi which is eaten with chopsticks.
You should hold your chopsticks with your dominant hand. Place one stick between your pointer and middle finger and the thumb. Your thumb should remain stationary when you move the chopsticks apart like a scissor. The second chopstick goes between the palm and your thumb where it rests in place. It’s that simple!
You may already have your own preferred way of holding chopsticks and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s worth learning how to hold and operate the utensils properly, especially if you frequently visit Asia.
One of the things to remember when you learn to eat with chopsticks is that the top chopstick should be one that’s moving and the bottom one should be stationary. You can give it a go and test your new skills by trying to grab easier food items such as dumplings or a piece of tofu.
When it comes to using chopsticks, different countries have their own rules. For example, in Japan you should lay your chopsticks on a rest. These are little ceramic or wooden rectangles that a restaurant would provide for you. You won’t need to bring your own!
In China it’s okay to lay your chopsticks across a bowl when you’re done eating. Neither in China nor Japan should chopsticks be placed on the table when eating.