I eat a lot of my meals with chopsticks, and when I say “a lot,” I’m not talking about stereotypically “Asian” food like sushi or General Tso’s chicken or Korean barbecue. I’ll eat pasta, salads, even Flamin’ Hot Cheetos with chopsticks. (I don’t like staining my fingers, and this works.) The way I see it, what is a plate of spaghetti carbonara but a serving of long noodles that is prime for slurping, like any bowl of ramen or udon?
I regularly cook with chopsticks, too — a skill I learned from my Korean mother who would flip scallion pancakes on a griddle with chopsticks when I was younger. These days, chopsticks are the most versatile tool in my kitchen, the one utensil I grab if I need to scramble eggs, pull pickles or hot peppers out from the bottom of the jar, flip slices of bacon frying on a cast-iron skillet, even plate spaghetti aglio e olio in a perfect little nest like I’m in that movie Chef and trying to seduce Scarlett Johansson.
I could do all of this cooking and eating with those disposable bamboo chopsticks that get delivered in bags of takeout, and I have in a pinch. But disposable chopsticks are far from ideal if you’re really committed to cooking with chopsticks — or want a cheap, more sustainable upgrade to serve takeout in style. Those wooden chopsticks are flimsy, they stain easily, and you have to throw them out after one use, which feels wasteful if you’re using them every day.
That’s why I fill my utensil drawer with metal chopsticks, which don’t break or bend, don’t stain, and can be used over and over again. The stainless steel is easy to clean and doesn’t absorb odors, so your scrambled eggs don’t take on the taste of a Sichuan stir-fry. The metal is also sanitary from a food-safety perspective; I don’t have to worry that any bacteria are hiding in the pores of the chopstick, a nice reassurance when I’m handling raw meat. They also look good. The design is sleek, and unlike some brightly lacquered or painted wooden chopsticks, these don’t ostentatiously stand out from the rest of my forks, knives, and spoons.
Metal chopsticks like these can be a bit slippery, especially if you’re handling something like that aforementioned raw meat, but once you start using them, you’ll adjust quickly. And for only $8 for a pack of five, these metal chopsticks are a decidedly better deal than hoarding the bamboo ones from your local takeout spot, even if you never once try to cook with them.
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