Chopsticks are used mainly to scoop up noodles and to shovel rice from bowl to mouth, holding the bowl close to the lips. Chinese people never use chopsticks to pick up rice by the grain to convey to the mouth, as falling grains symbolize bad luck.
Except for noodles, most Chinese food is cooked in bite-sized pieces in a sauce, and using chopsticks gives the perfect ratio of morsel to sauce.
Chopsticks have the advantage over forks in that you do not spear pieces of food but slide the chopsticks under and lift them up. This is especially important with deep-fried foods, as piercing the crispy batter before the morsel reaches the mouth will release air and moisture, which causes the coating to deflate and spoils the effect. Turning food with chopsticks when shallow frying also avoids piercing the flesh, which would allow the juices inside the food to escape.
When preparing food such as Japanese tempura, the use of chopsticks to dip the ingredients in batter helps to give a nice, thin coating and the end result is much lighter than would be the case if using a perforated spoon.
Although chopsticks are used exclusively in China and Japan, and among Chinese and Indo-Chinese communities in Southeast Asia, they are not part of Thai culinary culture unless noodles are being served. In Thailand, food is always eaten with a fork and spoon.
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