Dim Sum is a style of bite-sized food portions that are traditionally served in kitsch bamboo baskets. For Chinese people, no day is complete without these snacks. It is usually linked with the older tradition from yum cha (tea tasting), which has its roots from travellers on the ancient Silk Road needing a place to rest, and thus teahouses were established along the roadside.
Traditional dim sum includes various types of steamed buns, which contain a range of ingredients, including beef, chicken, pork, prawns, and vegetarian options. The serving sizes are usually small and normally served as three or four pieces in one dish, and because of these small portions, people can try a wide variety of food.
So let’s take a look at some of the tastiest dim sum items I have encountered so far!
The sausage buns are one of the more novel parts of dim sum, and are very popular especially in Hong Kong, although the Char Siu Baau, which is a roast pork bun, is probably the most famous of all dim sum items.
Xiaolongbao are famous steamed buns from the streets of Shanghai and contain pork and, occasionally, something more weird like minced crab meat, whereas Shumai is a baozi that is filled with pork, mushroom, and layered on top with fresh shrimp, in what seems to be like bags of pocket money!
Lo Mao Gai is rice wrapped in a lotus leaf, and this is very common in dim sum selections all around the world, whereas the Lai Wong Bao are soft and fluffy baozi filled with fresh custard. These can be served hot or cold. As for Lai Wong Bao, well these are steamed buns that have a yummy filling of custard. Sometimes the custard is hard, but other times the custard is runny.
Har Gow is a Chinese dumpling that is quite different to other parts of dim sum that I have included here, and they are usually filled with shrimp. The Guo Tie is quite similar to a Japanese gyoza, and these are filled with ground meat or vegetables, and wrapped in a soft dough.
If you wanted to enjoy some dim sum without eating the typical steamed buns, then how about trying some fulsome Egg Tarts, which are a remainder of the old Portuguese colonial times of Hong Kong and Macau. Black Sesame Rolls are one of the more unique items prepared for dim sum, but Chinese people still seem to love it!
Phoenix Claws chicken feet! I have seen these chicken feet on sale as street food in South Africa, where (along with the chicken’s heads) it is known as “Walkie Talkies”, but as part of dim sum it is intended as a light bite and preferably washed down by a nice cup of Chinese tea! Cifantuan is made with a piece of youtiao that is wrapped in glutinous rice. It can come with ingredients such as pickled vegetables and pork floss, and tastes delicious with soy milk! It wouldn’t be proper dim sum without cifantuan at the table!
What dim sum items tickle your fancy?