As a sushi novice there won’t be much art in your chopstick handling; in fact, they’re more likely to be an encumbrance, slowing your progress through all that delicious handmade sushi. The key is to stick with it (pun intended). There’s no such thing as a chopstick natural. Success comes with hard work and lots of sushi. So, keep practising and resist the temptation to wolf it all down with your hands, and, before you know it, you’ll be twiddling those sticks like an artist.
A little history
Chopsticks actually originated in China, where they were used as a cooking utensil as far back as 5,000 years ago. Around 400 BC, there was a population boom that severely impacted resources. The result was smaller pieces of food which were the perfect size for tweezer like chopsticks.
The first record of chopsticks in Japan appeared in 712AD, but they were probably introduced closer to 500AD, when Chinese culture flooded into Japan and Korea. Initially they were joined at the top like a big set of bamboo tweezers, and were only used for religious ceremonies. In the 10th century, the sticks were separated and were used more and more frequently.
Japanese chopsticks are usually made from bamboo or lacquered wood, and in 1878 the first disposable chopsticks were made.
Chopstick etiquette, sushi style…
If you’re ordering handmade sushi but not sashimi, you can put those little sticks down. It’s perfectly acceptable to eat nigiri and maki with your hands. However, if you like your raw fish sashimi style, then it’s chopstick time! Here’s what you need to know.
Level 1: Absolute essentials
- Do not stick your chopsticks upright in your rice
- Do not leave your chopsticks crossed on your plate, bowl or the tabl
- Do not use chopsticks one at a time, and never spear your food
- Do not pass food from one chopstick to the other
- Do not use mismatched chopsticks
- Do not wash your chopsticks in your beverage (obviously!)
- Do not drum or play with your chopsticks
- Do not use chopsticks as hair accessories (the hair accessories you’re thinking of are called kanzashi – they’re not chopsticks!)
Level 2: Refining your technique
- Do not suck on your chopsticks
- Do not rub your chopsticks together
- As tempting as it may be, do not shovel food directly into your mouth
- Do not take food from a communal plate with your own personal chopsticks (you should always use the utensils provided)
- Do not wander from dish to dish with your chopsticks while you decide what to eat next
- Never point your chopsticks, it is the height of rudeness
Level 3: Chopstick finishing school
- If you are supplied with chopstick rests (or hashi-oki), use them
- Don’t let liquids drip from your chopsticks
- Don’t stir your food with your chopsticks
And there you have it, your path to chopstick grandmasterdom. For plenty of chopstick practice, simply get in touch with YouMeSushi, choose your choice of sushi delivery from our delicious menu, unsheathe your chopsticks, and consume.