Written by Sai Teja.
Dim sum is a style of Chinese cuisine but generally considered Cantonese. It is a dumpling prepared in bite-sized portions and served in a small steamer bamboo basket along with tea.
These are often mistaken with momos as they look the same, but are completely different. Momos are Tibetan culture mostly found in Nepal, Tibet, and India, whereas dim sum dishes are mostly found in China.
The style of eating from little plates or dishes is so you can order more, eat more, and share more. This culture is known as Yum Cha: known as going for dim sum. It involves eating small servings of various dim sum foods while drinking tea. It is considered more like a snack or breakfast while catching up with some friends or family.
There are more than hundreds of various kinds of dim sum dishes available, but only some of them are classical, exquisite, and elegant. Let’s get into the list.
1. Lo Mai Gai (Lotus Leaf Rice)
Lo Mai Gai is generally steamed lotus leaves stuffed with sticky glutinous rice. This rice is mostly filled with egg yolk, dried scallop, mushroom, chestnut, and chicken. You can taste the earthiness and leafiness of the lotus, it is extremely soothing and has a unique hearty flavour.
2. Fung Zaau (Chicken Feet)
Fung Zaau is chicken feet that are deep-fried, boiled, and then marinated in a black bean sauce and steamed. It is one of the most loved dim sums, though it sounds weird for some of you guys, the chicken feet is one of the best parts. There are many side dishes made with chicken feet, but the dim sum style is the most famous one.
3. Lo Bak Go (Turnip Cake)
Lo Bak Go known as turnip cake is a very traditional Chinese dish that is always ordered by locals at any dim sum restaurant. Regular turnip is not used in the dish rather shredded radish and plain flour are used that’s why it is also called as radish cake. It is a quite simple dish that tastes like daikon and a little like sugar.
4. Ngau Juk Jyun (Steamed Meatballs)
Ngau Juk Jyun called meatballs is the signature dish of Cantonese dim sum. Usually, the meat is beef stuffed with cilantro and Chinese water chestnut combined with the fresh flavours of coriander leaves making it more delicious and is generally served with Worcester sauce. These meatballs are very dripping, very juicy, and are amazing. The cilantro is a great touch in the entire experience.
5. Chee Cheong Fun (Rice Noodle Roll)
Chee Cheong Fun is the most popular dim sum all over Asia. It is known as rice noodle roll in western, mostly filled with radish, shrimp, and beef in a thin crepe roll made of rice noodles usually dipped in a savory sauce. Overall, it is a soothing experience, fills you with glee, hearty stew packed with satisfying chunks of beef and noodle rolls.
6. Ngau Zai Gwat (Pepper Beef Short Ribs)
Ngau Zai Gwat known as pepper beef short ribs is one of the most delicious dim sums and also very easy to prepare at home. The beef ribs are well steamed and cracked black pepper is certainly the star of this dish. It is a very nice, tendering experience and extremely peppery.
7. Dan Tat (Egg Tart)
The origin of egg tart is actually Portuguese. It eventually made it into China after Portugal’s colonization of Macau. This dish is classic in southern Chinese. It has a flaky outer crust middle filled with an egg custard. It is so smooth, silky, and sweet. This is one of the best desserts in the dim sum family and it is easy to make at home
8. Fun Guo (Steamed Pork Dumplings)
Fun Guo also known as Chaozhou dumplings is a very traditional dim sum dish. It is usually stuffed with peanuts, garlic chives, ground port, dried shrimp, dried radish, and shiitake mushrooms wrapped with a tapioca starch wrapper. It looks similar to shrimp dumplings, but all these ingredients make it different and better than shrimp dumplings. It is steamed or pan-fried with oil.
It is so sticky and tastes like a mixture of celery, peanuts, and sesame. It is also available without meat.
9. Cha Siu Bao (steamed BBQ buns)
Cha Siu Bao or steamed barbecued pork buns are available in two kinds of varieties. one is steamed, which is traditional and has a white exterior while the other one is baked and has a brown exterior.
It has a sweet taste, is gooey, and is full of flavour with a soft baozi bun.
10. Shumai (Pork and Mushroom Dumpling)
Shumai is a Cantonese cuisine and is the most popular Chinese dumpling. This dim sum can be found all over Asia. It is also called “Dry-Steamed” because the outer surface is dry and the inner surface is filled with savoury juice. It is an overflowing shrimp and pork dumpling wrapped with a lye water dough and garnished with crab roe. It’s incredibly juicy pork and shrimp flavors will blow your mind.
11. Har Gow (Shrimp Dumplings)
Har Gow known as Xia jiao is a steamed crystal shrimp dumpling. In Cantonese, it is considered as the king of all dim sims. This dish is like shumai except wrapped with a silky smooth and tapioca wrapper that melts in your mouth. These are so silky, smooth, and juicy that you will never want to leave.
These are just some of the many outstanding dim sims, and these dim sums come very handily as they can be easily made at home and there are no rules of what ingredients to add, so you can try with different ingredients that you like.
The Dim sum is translated into English as “Touch your heart”. The next time you visit China, do not forget to try dim sums as they sure will touch your heart.
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Sai Teja is a contributor at The Strong Traveller. He is a content writer and passionate about writing and telling stories. He strongly believes that hard work and love for the profession can get you anywhere you want. Being a Computer Science graduate hasn’t stopped him from doing what he loves the most.