I’m a big fan of cooking with chopsticks. Being Chinese, I learned to use chopsticks from a very early age. It was just something that was drilled into me as most of the dishes I ate growing up weren’t served in the traditional western style of having your own portion served to you on your own plate. Typical Chinese meals consist of several main dishes in the centre of the table and everyone has their own portion of rice in their own bowl. You will use your chopsticks to take the noodles, meat, fish and vegetables from the main serving dishes and put them in your own rice bowl. It’s a bit like tapas but you’ve got much bigger portions. If you’ve ever tried dim sum in a Chinese restaurant, you’ll know what I mean.
Some of my friends who are in their 30’s and will still ask for a knife and fork in our local Chinese takeaway so this post might not be for everyone but one thing I’ve found is how versatile and convenient chopsticks are for preparing and cooking food. They are one of the most useful cooking tools and can be used for so many different things and I don’t mean just Asian cuisine. I use chopsticks for marinating meat, mixing salads, flipping/turning ingredients on a grill or in a saucepan. Some people have asked me why I don’t use tongs, tongs can probably do the same job but for me, I just find I’ve more control with chopsticks.
I only recommend you use wooden chopsticks, I learned the hard way by leaving a pair of plastic chopsticks leaning against a really hot frying pan and melting the tips into the enamel to the dismay of my father. Wooden chopsticks don’t have any colouring and I find that they provide a better grip than the smooth plastic ones that you can get. They’re also cheap as chips.
Most asian supermarkets will sell them for less than a euro a pair. Or you can get them from some take aways. I have at least 10 pairs of them in my kitchen drawer. I’ll toss a pair if they start to wear or warp. Some of the more expensive wooden pairs you can get do last and the pair I have have been passed down from my granny who used them for at least 10 years before me. You’re probably thinking gross but they’re perfectly fine with no discolouration!
Here’s just a short list of things I use chopsticks for in the kitchen:
- Beating eggs – I know, I know, I could just use a fork but I’ve always used chopsticks. They’re also useful if you’re scrambling eggs in a pan, if you were to use a fork or whisk on a teflon pan, you can be guaranteed to mark or destroy the coating, whereas wooden chopsticks won’t mark the pan at all.
- Flipping meat/vegetables – If I’m barbecuing steaks on the BBQ, grilling vegetables under the grill, making a stir fry or cooking chicken breasts on a grill pan, I’ll use chopsticks to turn my ingredients. Just make sure you have a good grip as you don’t want to drop whatever you are flipping
- Deep frying – If I’m frying vegetables or meat in a deep fat fryer, I’ll use chopsticks to both place the ingredients into the fryer and take them out again, it reduces the risk of major splash back. Again, just be careful not to drop something into the fryer causing hot oil to go everywhere
- Making a gap for a lid – If I’m making soup or boiling water for a dish with a lid on the pot, I’ll put my chopstick along the top of the pot and place my lid on top, making a small gap to allow steam to escape. Very convenient and saves my pot ingredients boiling over. Just be careful when you’re removing the chopstick as it can be very hot!
- Stabbing/Piercing vegetables – If I’m baking potatoes and want to check if they’re soft in the middle, I’ll stab them with a chopstick. If the chopstick goes through easily, then they’re done.
- Skewers – If you’re making skewers but don’t have metal or wooden skewers, why not try using some wooden chopsticks. Just make sure they’re not a pair you want to reuse, especially if you’re going to be bbq’ing the skewers as there’s a chance they’ll burn/char if you’re not careful
- Cherry picking – Ever try to take olives or gurkins from a jar without chopsticks? It’s tough, the chopsticks are small enough to fit into the jar and if you have enough control, you can take them out without any mess or fuss
So have you tried cooking with chopsticks? Why not share your experiences, tips and tricks in the comments section!
Thanks for reading.