Saturday, December 10, 2011

CHOPSTICKS and OBAMA - A tutorial, and Vietnamese Clay Pot Pork Recipe #TLLBLND

I have never given them much thought, I was not raised with them nor have I had formal training or practice. I am speaking of the use of Chinese chopsticks to eat your meal. I was moved to think about chopsticks when I recently saw a story on CBS Sunday Morning program giving the history of Chinese chopsticks. 5,000 years in the making and now out of favor in China. Japan has become the capital of hardwood chopstick manufacture and have held on to the long tradition of a relaxing meal and slowly savoring each grain of rice. Interesting enough the major city in Japan that manufactures the bulk of chopsticks today is the city of Obama; translation: 'little beach". They are very proud of their name association to a very unique American President Barak H. Obama.

A couple weeks ago I went to lunch with my office mates; Shirley, Kimmy and Joanne to a local Sushi / Korean restaurant  named "Olleh". I was now curious about the proper use of chopsticks, even though I do this thing where I fold my chopstick wrapper into a chopstick rest. Our server Sera was very obliging and happy to give our table the basics on how to work chopsticks. One stick is held between the forth finger and pinky finger and held stationary. The second stick is held between your pointer and middle fingers; this is the moving part to the pair and leading to successfully cleaning your plate of food.. It takes a little practice and as a kid I would use chopsticks to eat my mom's kidney bean bean at a time-


Once you have mastered the art of eating food with chopsticks well enough to finish lunch under an hour, try my Vietnamese Clay Pot Pork recipe (courtesy Gourmet Magazine). One of my all time favorites, and NO RICE TO EAT-


1/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup chicken stock
1/3 cup fish sauce, preferably Vietnamese
3 shallots, thinly sauce
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3 scallions, thinly sliced diagonally
1 lb. trimmed boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 tea. finely ground black pepper
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro

Cook sugar in a dry 3-quart heavy saucepan, over moderate heat without stirring, until it begins to melt. Continue to cook stirring is occasionally with a fork, until sugar has melted until a deep golden caramel. Carefully add stock and fish sauce (caramel will harden and steam vigorously) and cook until caramel is dissolved. Add shallots, garlic and white part of scallions and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally for 4 minutes..
Toss pork with pepper in a bowl and stir into sauce. Bring to a simmer, and cover pan, reduce heat to low, and braise pork, stirring once or twice until very tender, 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours. Stir in scallion greens and serve with fresh cilantro leaves sprinkled on top.

Practice, practice, practice.......



  1. Great article.....I'm not sure that hours of practice would actually help me with these darn chop sticks. :) This recipe you posted looks amazing! ~Shirley~

  2. WOW-Very well written. I had the images of Paris as you spoke it. And then I saw the photos. Outstanding.

  3. It takes time before you master of using a chopstick. As you practice, you will develop your "own" technique, and find out what works better for you. There is no right or wrong way really, but as with holding a pencil, many people do it differently and the goal is to write, with chopsticks, the goal is to get food in your mouth.

    1. Thank you for your comment Personalized Chopsticks-
      I agree completely with your comment. Like anything else when given the basics, you may then challenge yourself to be unique!

  4. I realize it's just chopsticks, but they did such a nice job with the packaging...Colorful and super fun gift.



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