Dim Sum (點心) are small Chinese dishes that you could eat in the afternoon. It doesn’t really matter which time in the afternoon you start and drink Chinese tea while eating. A lot of the dishes are from the Cantonese Kitchen and that’s why we call Dim Sum, Yum Cha as well, which is the Cantonese pronunciation. Literally it means: Drinking Tea. I like to compare Dim Sum with the British High Tea (also tea with good food) and Tapas (a lot of yummy food). A lot of the dishes are steamed in bamboo baskets.
When I was little I rather drink Cola during Dim Sum, but my mum always insisted that I should drink the healthy tea instead. She would say that drinking this tea would ensure me a smooth skin, so I gladly drink the tea instead of the cola. Actually my mum always did this when I didn’t want to eat or drink something and it helped on short term, because I thought having a smooth skin was important (also as an 8-year old). And the long term effect is that I’m grateful that she pushed me eating and trying new food and drinks. Now I love to eat food from different cultures and trying everything new instead of sticking to the same food the rest of my life.
But let’s get back to why we drink tea with Dim Sum: This tradition is so old, travelers used to go to Teahouses during their travel on the Silk Road. When people discovered that tea was good for digestion, teahouses offered a lot of different snacks to eat while drinking tea! Tea that are mostly served are: Chrysanthemum tea, Green tea, Oolong Tea and Bo-lei tea.
Because there are so many dishes for Dim Sum, I thought it would be fun to write about some of them now and then. The first seven dished I’ve consumed yesterday will be the first on the list:
First from left: Radish Cake 蘿蔔糕 (Lo Baak Gou)
Radish Cake is on top of my list when I’m ordering from Dim Sum courts. I love the mix of shredded radish and rice flour. The cake is cut into squares and in Singapore we call this dish Carrot Cake. The difference between the Cantonese variant and the Singaporean one is that in Singapore most of the time the pan fried cake has been cut in small pieces instead of the bigger square. I would like to put a recipe for this radish cake on the blog when I’m trying to make one of these!
Middle: Zhaliang 炸兩
I eat a lot of youtiao, which is fried dough in Sout East Asia. This dim sum dish is also the same fried dough but with a layer of rice noodle roll around it. Served with soy sauce, we almost never skip this dish during Dim Sum.
Right: Fried pastry with porkmeat inside
Children especially love this dish, simple but tasty, don’t have much more to add on this one.
Xiao Long Bao 小籠包
Steamed little buns with minced crabmeat and soup inside. They are a kind of dumplings but because there is soup inside, you need to slowly bite a small piece out of the dumpling and suck the soup out of it! Doesn’t sound that attractive right, but just try it!
Rice noodle rolls 豬腸粉 (chee cheong fun)
We call this dish normally ha cheung, most of the time we eat this with shrimps and roasted pork meat. Can’t skip this dish neither, the thin rolls are made of rice noodles and it will be tastier when the soy souce is poured over the rolls.
Beef stomach: 牛肚 (Niudu)
Beef stomach is smooth and a bit tough to eat sometimes, but prepared in a dim sum dish, the stomach is cut in tiny pieces and easy to consume. There’s always someone in the group during Dim Sum who is going to order this dish, but personally I don’t eat it that much.
Fried Shrimp and mango rolls
I never eaten this dish in other Dim Sum restaurants… but when I saw this was offered the first time, I defintely wanted to try it. The mix of mango and shrimp is a good one, I can recommend this dish whenever you are in restaurants which serve the mango+shrimp dish.
This was Dim Sum Dishes Part 1, hope it was useful 🙂