We all love to eat Dim Sum, but sadly we can’t make enough excuses to eat it all the time. Someone might get suspicious… But don’t fret! Central are always fully stocked with all your favourite Dim Sum dishes. Many people do not attempt to make Dim Sum at home as it is very time-consuming and involves a lot of complicated techniques – so we have left all the hard bits to the professionals, to bring you the finest Dim Sum ready to be steamed at your convenience or when you get those Dim Sum withdrawal symptoms.
So what exactly is Dim Sum?
Aside from being our favourite food in the entire world, Dim Sum comes from the age-old tradition of ‘Yum Cha’ which means tea tasting. Traditionally, travellers and local farmers would stop at tea houses located on the Silk Road to rest after a hard day’s work. After realising that tea was beneficial to digestion, the tea shops started serving small snacks with the tea. The tradition of Yum Cha was transformed over centuries from being a relaxing affair, to a loud and joyful one, as it became a widely popular dining experience all over China, enjoyed at all times of the day. In some areas of China, Dim Sum is enjoyed as a weekend treat with the family. In other regions it is enjoyed as a tasty snack in the morning.
Types of Dim Sum
There are a large range of Dim Sum dishes but the most popular, staple dishes are:
Har Gau (Prawn dumpling wrapped in translucent rice flour skin)
Siu Mai (minced pork and prawn wrapped in won ton pastry and topped with crab roe)
Jiaozi Dumplings (Won ton pastry filled with pork, prawn or vegetables, pan-fried and steamed)
Fung Chaw (Chicken feet marinated in black bean sauce)
Char Siu Bao (Sweet and fluffy bun filled with honeyed roast pork)
Cheong Fun (Wide rice noodles filled with prawns/minced beef/roast pork and rolled)
Lo Mai Gai (Glutinous rice filled with egg yolk, dried scallop, mushroom, water chestnut and meat- usually pork and chicken)
Taro Dumpling (made with mashed taro, stuffed with diced shiitake mushrooms, shrimp and pork, deep-fried in crispy batter)
Won Ton (Thin pastry filled with meat/or fish and vegetable)
Daikon Cake (Shredded Daikon also known as turnip, mixed with shredded pork or shrimp and pan-fried )
Congee (A thick soup with a variety of meats and fish , with peanuts, ginko nuts, shredded scallop, ginger)
Custard Tarts (Small, sweet custard egg tarts)
Dou Fu Fa (Silken Tofu with sweet ginger syrup)
Jin Deui (Especially popular at Chinese New Year, chewy dough filled with red bean paste, rolled in sesame seeds, and deep fried)
Steamed Sponge Cake (Sweet, soft sponge cake flavoured with Molasses)
HOW-TO: Prepare restaurant quality Dim Sum at home
For those of us who were unsure about how it’s done – here is Dim Sum at its simplest. All you need is a steamer and water! You can use any kind of steamer, but for an authentic feel (and to impress your friends) you can use bamboo steamers.
TIP: Cut out a circle of baking paper on the base of the bamboo steamers to keep the food from sticking to them.
Heat a saucepan of boiling water and simmer. Make sure your saucepan fits the steamers on top so that no heat can escape. Following the cooking times of each Dim Sum dish, put each ingredient into a bamboo layer, and place over the saucepan, with the longest cooking times on the bottom layers.
TIP: Place a penny in the boiling water. If you hear it knocking around after a while, it means you need to add more water!
Now it’s time to sit back and relax for about 20 minutes and let the steam work its magic…
The delicious results
Ha Gow, Siu Mai, Pork and Vegetable Bao and Mini Glutinous Rice!
Carefully remove the steamers and serve immediately with your favourite sauces
So now you’ve seen just how simple and easy it is, you can throw an easy and delicious dinner party or just spice up your Sunday lunch!