Dim sum, the traditional Chinese cuisine, is a tantalizing culinary adventure that is sure to take your taste buds on an unforgettable journey.
Bursting with flavor and texture, dim sum, one of the most famous Chinese foods in the world, is a collection of small, bite-sized dishes that are meant to be shared and enjoyed with family and friends.
From steamed dumplings filled with succulent meat and vegetables to crispy fried treats and silky smooth rice rolls, dim sum is a feast for the senses.
Each dish is expertly crafted with a delicate balance of sweet, savory, and umami flavors, making it the perfect meal for any occasion.
So, get ready to indulge in a culinary experience like no other and discover the delicious world of dim sum!
What is Dim Sum?
Dim sum is a traditional Chinese cuisine that consists of a variety of small, bite-sized dishes that are usually served in bamboo baskets or on small plates.
The dishes can range from savory to sweet and include a variety of ingredients such as meat, seafood, vegetables, and noodles. Dim sum is usually served as a brunch or lunch meal in restaurants that specialize in this cuisine.
Some of the most popular dim sum dishes include dumplings (such as har gow and siu mai), bao buns, steamed and fried rolls, crispy fried snacks, and various types of congee (rice porridge). Dim sum is often enjoyed with tea, and the dishes are meant to be shared amongst the diners.
Dim sum has a rich history dating back to the Cantonese tea houses of the 19th century, where it was initially served as a snack with tea. Over time, it evolved into a full-fledged meal and has since become a beloved cuisine enjoyed by people all over the world.
History of Dim Sum
Dim sum has a rich history that dates back to the ancient tea houses of the Cantonese region of China.
It is believed that these tea houses started serving small snacks to accompany the tea in the morning or afternoon, as tea drinking was a popular pastime in China. These small snacks were eventually developed into the modern dim sum dishes we know today.
During the 1800s, dim sum became a popular meal option for travelers along the Silk Road, which was a network of trade routes connecting China with the rest of the world.
The tea houses and dim sum restaurants along the route became famous for their hospitality, and the popularity of dim sum grew.
In the early 1900s, dim sum made its way to Hong Kong and quickly became a staple cuisine of the region. The first dim sum restaurant in Hong Kong was established in 1894, and the cuisine continued to gain popularity throughout the region and beyond.
Today, dim sum is enjoyed by people all over the world, and it has evolved to include a wide variety of dishes and flavors. Despite its evolution, however, dim sum remains a beloved cuisine with a rich history and cultural significance.
Chinese Name of Dim Sum
The Chinese name of dim sum is 点心, pronounced as “diǎn xīn“.
In Cantonese, it is pronounced as “dím sām”.
Types of Dim Sum
There are many different types of dim sum, each with its own unique flavor, texture, and ingredients. Here are some of the most popular types of dim sum:
These are small pockets of dough that are typically filled with meat, seafood, or vegetables.
Some of the most popular dumplings include har gow (shrimp dumplings), siu mai (pork and shrimp dumplings), and xiao long bao (soup dumplings).
These are soft and fluffy steamed buns that are filled with a variety of ingredients, such as BBQ pork, chicken, or vegetables.
Rice Noodle Rolls
These are thin sheets of rice noodle that are rolled around various fillings, such as beef, shrimp, or vegetables. They are often served with a sweet soy sauce.
These are soft and fluffy buns that are typically filled with pork or red bean paste.
These include a variety of fried snacks, such as spring rolls, fried shrimp balls, and sesame balls.
This is a type of rice porridge that is typically served with savory ingredients, such as pork and preserved egg.
These include a variety of sweet treats, such as egg tarts, custard buns, and mango pudding.
These are just a few examples of the many different types of dim sum available. Each region and restaurant may have their own unique twists and variations on these classic dishes.
Dim Sum Taste & Texture: How Dim Sum Taste Like?
The taste and texture of dim sum can vary depending on the type of dish, but in general, dim sum is known for its bold and complex flavors and a variety of textures.
Many dim sum dishes are savory, with flavors that range from mild to spicy. They often include ingredients such as meat, seafood, and vegetables, which are seasoned with spices, sauces, and herbs to create a unique and delicious flavor profile.
In terms of texture, dim sum can be chewy, crispy, or silky, depending on the dish.
For example, steamed dumplings and buns tend to have a soft and doughy texture, while fried dim sum dishes may be crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Rice noodle rolls have a silky and smooth texture, and congee is typically soft and soupy.
Overall, the taste and texture of dim sum are a unique and delicious experience, with each dish offering its own distinct flavor and texture. It’s no wonder that dim sum has become a beloved cuisine around the world!
Accompaniments & Serving of Dim Sum
Dim sum is often served with a variety of accompaniments that are meant to complement the flavors and textures of the dishes. Here are some common accompaniments to dim sum:
- Tea: Dim sum is traditionally served with Chinese tea, which helps to cleanse the palate between dishes and enhance the overall dining experience.
- Soy sauce: Soy sauce is often served as a dipping sauce for savory dim sum dishes, such as dumplings and rice noodle rolls.
- Chili oil: Chili oil is a popular condiment for dim sum, particularly for those who enjoy a spicy kick to their food.
- Vinegar: Some dim sum dishes, such as dumplings, are traditionally served with a vinegar dipping sauce.
- Sweet sauces: Sweet sauces such as hoisin sauce, oyster sauce, and plum sauce are often used to enhance the flavors of certain dim sum dishes.
Dim sum is typically served family-style, with dishes brought out in bamboo steamers or on small plates that are shared amongst the diners.
The dishes are meant to be enjoyed together and are typically ordered in rounds, with diners selecting a few dishes at a time until they are satisfied.
The communal nature of the dining experience is part of what makes dim sum such a beloved cuisine, as it encourages socializing and sharing amongst friends and family.
Variation of Dim Sum
Dim sum has become a popular cuisine around the world, and as a result, there are many variations of dim sum that incorporate local flavors and ingredients. Here are some examples of variation of dim sum:
Hong Kong-style Dim Sum
This is the classic style of dim sum that originated in Guangzhou, China, and has become popular around the world. It includes dishes such as siu mai, har gow, and char siu bao.
Shanghainese Dim Sum
This style of dim sum is known for its steamed buns filled with savory meat and vegetable fillings, such as pork and crabmeat or spinach and bamboo shoots.
Cantonese-style Dim Sum
This variation of dim sum is known for its variety of steamed dumplings and buns, such as siu mai, har gow, and cha siu bao, as well as a wide range of fried and baked snacks.
Malaysian and Singaporean-style Dim Sum
These countries have their own unique variations of dim sum that incorporate local ingredients and flavors, such as curry puffs, chicken and mushroom pies, and chili crab dumplings.
Fusion Dim Sum
Many restaurants around the world have put their own unique spin on dim sum by incorporating flavors and ingredients from other cuisines. For example, some restaurants offer dim sum with Mexican or Korean flavors, such as pork belly and kimchi bao.
Halal Dim Sum
Halal dim sum is popular in countries with Muslim population, in which the pork is replaced by chicken. There are many Halal Dim Sum restaurants across the globe.
These are just a few examples of the many variations of dim sum that can be found around the world. The versatility and adaptability of dim sum is part of what makes it such a beloved cuisine, as it can be enjoyed in many different ways and adapted to suit different palates and tastes.
Preparation of Dim Sum
The preparation of dim sum can vary depending on the specific dish, but in general, most dim sum dishes are made by hand and require a certain level of skill and technique. Here are the basic steps involved in the preparation of dim sum:
- Making the filling: The first step in making most dim sum dishes is to prepare the filling. This may involve mixing together ground meat, seafood, vegetables, and seasonings to create a flavorful mixture that will be wrapped in dough or cooked in other ways.
- Making the dough: Many dim sum dishes involve wrapping the filling in dough, which is made by combining flour, water, and sometimes other ingredients such as baking powder or yeast. The dough is kneaded until it is smooth and pliable, and then rolled out into thin circles or squares.
- Filling and shaping the dim sum: Once the filling and dough are prepared, the dim sum is assembled by placing a small amount of filling in the center of the dough, and then folding or shaping the dough around the filling. This may involve techniques such as pleating, twisting, or crimping the edges of the dough to create a seal.
- Cooking the dim sum: Dim sum is typically steamed, fried, or baked, depending on the specific dish. Steaming is the most common cooking method, and involves placing the dim sum in a bamboo steamer basket and steaming it over boiling water for a few minutes until it is cooked through.
- Plating and serving the dim sum: Once the dim sum is cooked, it is typically arranged on a serving platter or in a bamboo steamer basket and served with dipping sauces and other accompaniments.
Preparing dim sum can be a time-consuming process that requires a certain level of skill and expertise, but the end result is a delicious and satisfying meal that is enjoyed by many people around the world.
Ingredients for Dim Sum
The ingredients used in dim sum can vary depending on the specific dish, but in general, most dim sum dishes feature a combination of the following ingredients:
- Meat: Pork, chicken, beef, and seafood (eg; shrimp, fish) are commonly used in dim sum dishes, and are often ground or chopped finely to create a filling.
- Vegetables: Vegetables such as mushrooms, cabbage, carrots, and scallions are often used in dim sum dishes, either as a filling or as a flavoring agent.
- Rice: Rice is a staple in many dim sum dishes, either as steamed rice, sticky rice, or rice flour used in wrappers or fillings.
- Wheat flour: Wheat flour is used to make the dough for many dim sum dishes, such as steamed buns, dumplings, and noodles.
- Seasonings: Dim sum dishes are often flavored with a combination of soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, ginger, garlic, and other seasonings to enhance the flavor of the ingredients.
- Eggs: Eggs are commonly used in dim sum dishes such as custard tarts and egg tarts, as well as in some dumpling fillings.
- Bean paste: Bean paste is used as a filling or flavoring agent in some dim sum dishes, such as red bean buns and lotus seed paste buns.
- Tofu: Tofu is sometimes used as a filling in dumplings, or as a standalone dish, such as fried tofu.
These are just a few examples of the many ingredients that are used in dim sum. The wide variety of ingredients and flavor combinations is part of what makes dim sum such a diverse and exciting cuisine.
Tools Required to Prepare Dim Sum
Preparing dim sum can require a variety of tools, depending on the specific dish being made. Here are some common tools used in the preparation of dim sum:
- Bamboo steamer baskets: These are used to steam dim sum dishes, such as dumplings, buns, and rolls.
- Rolling pins: Rolling pins are used to roll out dough for dim sum dishes such as dumplings, buns, and wrappers.
- Dumpling molds: These are used to shape dumplings, and come in a variety of sizes and shapes.
- Woks: Woks are used to fry or stir-fry ingredients used in dim sum dishes, such as vegetables and meats.
- Cleavers: Cleavers are used to chop meats and vegetables, as well as to cut dumpling wrappers and other doughs.
- Mixing bowls: Mixing bowls are used to combine ingredients for fillings and doughs.
- Brushes: Brushes are used to brush oil or egg wash onto the surface of dim sum dishes, such as buns or rolls, before they are steamed or baked.
- Strainers: Strainers are used to drain excess liquid from ingredients used in dim sum dishes, such as ground meat or vegetables.
- Kitchen shears: Kitchen shears are used to cut ingredients such as meat, vegetables, and dumpling wrappers.
These are just a few examples of the many tools that can be used in the preparation of dim sum. Having the right tools can help make the process easier and more efficient, but many dim sum dishes can also be prepared using simple kitchen utensils and equipment.
Dim Sum Cooking Methods
Dim sum can be cooked using a variety of methods, depending on the specific dish being made. Here are some common cooking methods used in the preparation of dim sum:
- Steaming: Steaming is one of the most common cooking methods used in dim sum. Dishes such as dumplings, buns, and rolls are typically steamed using a bamboo steamer basket, which allows the steam to circulate and cook the food evenly.
- Frying: Some dim sum dishes are deep-fried, such as spring rolls, sesame balls, and shrimp toast. The oil should be heated to the proper temperature and the food should be fried until golden brown and crispy.
- Boiling: Some dim sum dishes, such as wontons and soup dumplings, are boiled in a flavorful broth until cooked through.
- Baking: Dim sum dishes such as egg tarts and custard tarts are baked in the oven until the crust is golden brown and the filling is set.
- Pan-frying: Pan-frying is used to cook dishes such as potstickers, which are first fried in a hot pan to create a crispy bottom, and then steamed to finish cooking.
- Grilling: Some dim sum dishes, such as Chinese barbecue pork buns, are grilled until the outside is charred and crispy.
These are just a few examples of the many cooking methods used in the preparation of dim sum. The cooking method used for each dish can affect the flavor, texture, and appearance of the final product, so it is important to choose the right cooking method for each dish.
Dim Sum Recipes: How to Make Dim Sum at Home
Making dim sum at home can be a fun and rewarding experience. Here are three recipes for classic dim sum dishes that you can try making at home:
Dim Sum Recipe 1 – Shrimp and Pork Siu Mai:
- 1/2 lb. ground pork
- 1/2 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 2 green onions, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp. soy sauce
- 1 tbsp. sesame oil
- 1 tbsp. cornstarch
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 1/2 tsp. ground white pepper
- 24 wonton wrappers
- In a large bowl, combine the ground pork, shrimp, green onions, soy sauce, sesame oil, cornstarch, sugar, and white pepper. Mix well to combine.
- Take a wonton wrapper and place a spoonful of the filling in the center. Gather up the edges of the wrapper around the filling and gently pinch to form a pleated cup shape. Repeat with the remaining wrappers and filling.
- Arrange the siu mai in a single layer in a steamer basket. Steam for 8-10 minutes, or until the filling is cooked through and the wrappers are translucent.
Dim Sum Recipe 2 – Char Siu Bao (Chinese Barbecue Pork Buns):
- 1/2 lb. char siu (Chinese barbecue pork), chopped into small pieces
- 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
- 1/4 cup oyster sauce
- 2 tbsp. soy sauce
- 2 tbsp. sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 tbsp. cornstarch
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp. active dry yeast
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- In a medium bowl, combine the chopped char siu, hoisin sauce, oyster sauce, soy sauce, sugar, water, and cornstarch. Mix well and set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, yeast, and sugar. Add the warm water, vegetable oil, and salt, and stir until a dough forms.
- Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for 5-10 minutes, or until smooth and elastic. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour.
- Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces and flatten each piece into a circle. Place a spoonful of the char siu filling in the center of each circle and gather up the edges of the dough around the filling. Pinch the edges together to seal the bun.
- Arrange the buns in a single layer in a steamer basket. Steam for 15-20 minutes, or until the buns are puffed up and cooked through.
Dim Sum Recipe 3 – Har Gow (Shrimp Dumplings):
- 1/2 lb peeled and deveined shrimp, chopped into small pieces
- 1/4 cup bamboo shoots, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- 2 tbsp water
- 2 tsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1/4 tsp white pepper
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 20-24 wonton wrappers
- In a mixing bowl, combine the chopped shrimp, bamboo shoots, cornstarch, water, soy sauce, sesame oil, white pepper, and salt. Mix well and let the filling sit for 10-15 minutes.
- To assemble the dumplings, place a tablespoon of the filling in the center of a wonton wrapper. Dip your finger in water and run it along the edges of the wrapper. Fold the wrapper in half and press the edges together to seal, making sure to remove any air pockets.
- Place the dumplings in a steamer basket lined with parchment paper, leaving some space between them. Steam the dumplings for about 8-10 minutes, or until the shrimp filling is cooked through and the wrappers are translucent.
- Serve the dumplings hot with soy sauce, chili sauce, or another dipping sauce of your choice.
Tips for Dim Sum
Here are some tips to help you make the most delicious dim sum:
- Use fresh ingredients: The key to good dim sum is using fresh ingredients. Make sure your meat, seafood, and vegetables are fresh and of good quality.
- Pay attention to the texture: Texture is an important aspect of dim sum. The filling should be moist and tender, and the wrapper should be thin and delicate.
- Don’t overfill the wrappers: Be careful not to overfill the wrappers as this can cause them to burst during cooking. Use a small spoon or scoop to portion out the filling and leave a small border around the edges.
- Use the right steaming equipment: Invest in a good quality steamer basket or bamboo steamer to ensure even cooking of your dim sum. Make sure the water in the steamer is boiling before adding the dim sum.
- Experiment with flavors: Don’t be afraid to experiment with different flavors and fillings. Try using different combinations of meat, seafood, and vegetables, and experiment with different sauces and spices to create unique and delicious dim sum.
- Keep the wrappers covered: Keep the wrappers covered with a damp towel to prevent them from drying out and cracking while you work.
- Practice makes perfect: Making dim sum can be a bit tricky at first, but with practice, you’ll get the hang of it. Don’t be discouraged if your first few attempts don’t turn out perfectly – keep practicing and you’ll soon be a dim sum pro!
Dim Sum Nutrition
Dim sum can be a delicious and satisfying meal, but it’s important to consider the nutritional content of the dishes you’re eating. Here are some things to keep in mind when it comes to dim sum nutrition:
- High sodium: Many dim sum dishes are high in sodium, which can contribute to high blood pressure and other health problems. Try to limit your intake of salty dishes like soy sauce, dumpling fillings with high sodium content, and fried dishes.
- High fat: Some dim sum dishes, especially those that are deep-fried, can be high in unhealthy fats. Look for dishes that are steamed or boiled, and choose leaner fillings like shrimp, chicken, or vegetables.
- Carbohydrates: Many dim sum dishes are made with white flour wrappers, which can be high in carbohydrates. Opt for dishes with vegetable or rice-based wrappers instead, and choose dishes with more protein and fewer carbohydrates.
- Fiber: Dim sum dishes can be a good source of fiber, especially those with vegetable or whole-grain wrappers and fillings. Look for dishes that include leafy greens, mushrooms, or other fiber-rich ingredients.
- Portion control: Dim sum is meant to be enjoyed in small portions, so be mindful of how much you’re eating. Try to limit yourself to one or two dumplings per type of dish, and focus on filling up on healthier options like steamed vegetables and lean proteins.
Overall, dim sum can be a healthy and enjoyable meal if you choose your dishes carefully and practice moderation. Enjoy your dim sum in moderation as part of a balanced diet.
Reheating The Dim Sum
Reheating dim sum can be a bit tricky, as you want to make sure that the texture and flavor of the dishes are preserved. Here are some tips for reheating dim sum:
- Steaming: Steaming is the best way to reheat most types of dim sum, as it helps to preserve the texture and flavor. Simply place the dim sum in a steamer basket over boiling water and steam for a few minutes until heated through.
- Microwave: If you’re in a hurry, you can also use the microwave to reheat dim sum. Place the dumplings on a microwave-safe plate, cover with a damp paper towel, and microwave on high for 30-second intervals until heated through.
- Oven: For larger dim sum dishes like char siu bao or egg tarts, you can use the oven to reheat them. Preheat the oven to 350°F, place the dim sum on a baking sheet, and bake for 5-10 minutes or until heated through.
- Frying: Some types of dim sum, like spring rolls or fried dumplings, can be reheated by deep-frying them for a few minutes until crispy and hot.
Keep in mind that dim sum is best when it’s freshly made, so it’s always a good idea to eat it right away if possible. If you do need to reheat your dim sum, be sure to watch it closely and remove it from the heat as soon as it’s heated through to avoid overcooking.
How to Eat Dim Sum: The Right Way!
Eating dim sum is a fun and social experience that involves sharing small plates and sampling a variety of dishes. Here are some tips for how to eat dim sum:
- Order a variety of dishes: Dim sum is meant to be enjoyed in small bites, so be sure to order a variety of dishes to share with your dining companions. This way, everyone can sample a little bit of everything.
- Use chopsticks or a fork: Dim sum can be eaten with chopsticks or a fork, depending on your comfort level. If you’re using chopsticks, be sure to practice beforehand so you can pick up small items like dumplings and shrimp.
- Dip in sauce: Many dim sum dishes come with a dipping sauce, such as soy sauce or chili oil. Use your chopsticks or fork to dip your food in the sauce before taking a bite.
- Take small bites: Dim sum dishes are usually small, so take small bites to savor the flavor and texture of each dish.
- Share with others: Dim sum is a social meal meant to be shared with others. Offer to share your dishes with your dining companions, and be open to trying new things.
- Pace yourself: Dim sum is a marathon, not a sprint! Pace yourself and enjoy the meal slowly over a period of time.
Remember, the most important thing about eating dim sum is to have fun and enjoy the company of your dining companions. So relax, savor the flavors, and enjoy the experience!
Where To Eat The Best Dim Sum?
Dim sum is a popular cuisine that can be found in many cities around the world, Here are some of the places for best dim sum:
- Hong Kong: Hong Kong is known for its dim sum, and there are many famous dim sum restaurants in the city, such as Tim Ho Wan and Lung King Heen.
- Guangzhou: Guangzhou, also known as Canton, is considered the birthplace of dim sum. There are many traditional dim sum restaurants in the city, such as Yum Cha and Taotaoju.
- New York City: New York City has a vibrant Chinese food scene, and there are many great dim sum restaurants in Chinatown, such as Dim Sum Palace and Nom Wah Tea Parlor.
- Vancouver: Vancouver is known for its diverse food scene, and there are many excellent dim sum restaurants in the city, such as Kirin and Dynasty Seafood.
- Malaysia/Singapore: Malaysia and Singapore has a strong Chinese food culture, and there are many high-quality dim sum restaurants in the city.
Ultimately, the best place to eat dim sum will depend on your personal preferences and location. Be sure to do your research and try different restaurants to find your own favorite spot!
What is the Price of Dim Sum?
The price of dim sum can vary depending on a variety of factors, such as the type of restaurant, location, and specific dishes ordered. In general, the price of dim sum can range from a few dollars to several hundred dollars for a large group.
At a casual dim sum restaurant or takeout location, prices can start as low as $2-3 per dish and range up to $10-15 for more elaborate or premium items.
In more upscale restaurants or hotels, prices can be higher, ranging from $5-10 per dish up to $20 or more for premium items or specialty menus.
It’s also worth noting that the price of dim sum can vary depending on the time of day or week. Many dim sum restaurants offer discounted prices during weekday lunch hours or off-peak times.
Ultimately, the price of dim sum will depend on your location, the type of restaurant or establishment, and the specific dishes you order. It’s always a good idea to check the menu and prices before ordering, and to ask your server if you have any questions or concerns.
FAQ for Dim Sum
Here are some frequently asked questions about dim sum:
What is the difference between dim sum and dumplings?
Dim sum is a broad term that refers to a variety of small dishes typically served with tea, while dumplings are a specific type of dim sum made with dough and a filling. Not all dim sum dishes are dumplings, but all dumplings are a type of dim sum.
How many pieces of dim sum should I order?
The number of pieces of dim sum you should order depends on the size of your group and your appetite. As a general rule of thumb, plan for 2-3 pieces of dim sum per person per dish, and order a variety of dishes to share.
Is dim sum healthy?
Dim sum can be a healthy meal if you choose your dishes carefully and practice moderation. Look for dishes with lean proteins, vegetables, and whole grains, and try to limit your intake of fried or high-sodium dishes.
Can I make dim sum at home?
Yes, it’s possible to make dim sum at home with the right ingredients and equipment. Many dim sum dishes can be steamed or boiled, making them a healthier option for home cooking. You can find many dim sum recipes online or in cookbooks.
Do I need to tip at a dim sum restaurant?
Tipping practices can vary depending on the restaurant and location. In some places, a service charge may be included in the bill, while in others, it’s customary to leave a small tip for the server. Check with your server or restaurant staff to see what the tipping policy is.
Dim Sum: One of the Best Chinese Foods in The World
In conclusion, dim sum is a delightful and versatile cuisine that has something to offer for everyone.
Whether you’re a fan of savory, steamed dumplings, or sweet, crispy pastries, there’s a dim sum dish that will tantalize your taste buds. With its rich history, vibrant flavors, and beautiful presentation, dim sum is truly a feast for the senses.
And the best part?
With a little practice and the right ingredients, you can recreate the magic of dim sum in your own kitchen. So why not gather some friends and family, brew a pot of tea, and enjoy a homemade dim sum feast?
With its endless variety and delicious flavors, dim sum is sure to become a favorite in your culinary repertoire.