Why You Need a Pair of Cooking Chopsticks

updated May 1, 2019
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Stir-fry spinach with garlic in a wok, with chopsticks on the side

You most likely think of a pair of chopsticks as simply a utensil for grabbing your sushi or pad Thai rather than a cooking tool. Yes, I’m talking about those cheap wooden ones that get thrown into your takeout bag, but there’s another set of chopsticks out there that’s destined for much more.

Called saibashi in Japanese, these unique chopsticks are typically made of bamboo and significantly longer — ranging anywhere between 14 to 16 inches in length.

How to use them? Kian Lam Kho, chef and author of Phoenix Claws and Jade Trees: Essential Techniques of Chinese Cooking, believes the possibilities are endless. “Cooking chopsticks are really an incredible tool,” Kho says. “You can use them in many situations. Yes, you still need your spatula and your spoon to cook, but if you need to be a little more precise, chopsticks are important — you can really pinpoint what you want to handle.”

Kho recommends buying a cheap pair like these. “You don’t want to buy anything too fancy because you’re just going to be cooking with them,” he says. Here are a few of his favorite ways to use them.

Toss-and-Plate Stir-Fries

Put down those tongs or that spatula — cooking chopsticks can be used to toss a stir-fry just as well, if not better. Use the chopsticks to flip the protein and vegetables and to mix all of the ingredients together.

“They’re a great plating tool as well,” says Kho. Use them to move individual components within the plate so that you can present a stir-fry that’s worthy of a restaurant, instead of one that’s just been scooped onto the dish.

Scrambled Eggs

Faith already professed her love of using chopstick to scramble eggs, and Kho agrees. “Interestingly enough, scrambling eggs with chopsticks is not only easier, but it also makes for perfectly sized curds,” says Kho.

Pick Up Deep-Fried Foods

Thanks to their length, cooking chopsticks are a great tool to use when deep-frying. “I love to use them when you deep-fry because they make it easy to flip the food when in the fryer,” says Kho. Use them again to pick up the food from the fryer, too — it will drain better than when simply using a spoon.

Grab Small Items from Jars

“If you’re trying to pick up a specific thing from a jar or a container, cooking chopsticks make it easy to pick up,” says Kho. He loves to use them to grab small chili peppers from a jar or anything else small that’s often tricky to scoop up with a fork or spoon.