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11/04/2011 02:41 pm ET | Updated Aug 31, 2012

How To Use Chopsticks

Using chopsticks is easy once you get the hang of it. Chef David Smythe of The Culinary Institute of America explains that the secret is holding them correctly. Take one stick and place it in the crook of your thumb and against your ring finger -- this stick should remain stationary. The second stick is the one that moves. Hold it like a pencil, with the motion coming as you roll it over the tip of your thumb. Don't hold the chopsticks close to the tips; you want to grip them a bit further back than halfway. Chef Smythe recommends practicing your technique with small items like rice and peas until you become an expert.

For 60 years, The Culinary Institute of America has been setting the standard for excellence in professional culinary education. In this video series, experienced chefs and educators show you how to tackle essential cooking techniques.

Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Chef Dave Smythe from the Culinary Institute of America, and I'm going to show you this kitchen basic today: how to use chopsticks.

To hold chopsticks, you simply take one stick, place it in the crook of the thumb and against end of the ring finger, and you hold with moderate pressure - and it's immovable. The second stick is the movable stick, and it's held more like a pencil. It tends to roll across the top of the thumb, held stationary and firmly with these fingers. So the motion is simply the rolling across the thumb.

Ideally you would hold your chopsticks toward the back half of the sticks, not forward - but not too far back; just like this. Basically, you simply move the wrist in this way as you hold these, and put the food into your mouth.

The hardest thing to pick up, naturally, is small items. Rice, usually, is picked up with a scooping motion, and held in this way. Other small items actually require you to squeeze them gently, and pick them up. It might seem rather time-consuming to eat in this manner; however, at the Asian table time is not an issue. You're there for the experience of dining.

Picking up the difficult items is the way to practice. Don't start with the big chunks - start with something little. Challenge yourself. This is very simple. Nothing could be simpler than two sticks: the sound of two sticks chopping.

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