You have probably tried this before. You went to this or that place, with big tables, where you and your friends were sitted next to a bunch of strangers. Your friends brought you there, and you had nothing against it. The food was amazing but you did not ask much about it, because you had to eat fast. Maybe if you were lucky you got that it was called Dim Sum and it has its origin in China, more specifically in the region of Guandong.
But now you see it everywhere and the last thing you want to do is show your zero understanding of this gastronomic revolution. Do not fear no more. Here are the basic terms concerning Dim-Sum layed out for you:
Dumplings are just a wide category of food which include tiny pieces of dough stuffed with filling and steamed / boiled / fried, or simply dough balls that are cooked similarly. For example, gnocchi from Italy, pierogies from Poland, empanadas from South America, pithe from India, and gyoza from Japan.
These are the ones you wanted to know about. They are a group of steamed and suffix dumplings indigenous to the Cantonese cuisine, usually eaten in the morning / midday. To have them for dinner is more and western thing. Dim Sum literally means «food that touches the heart».
The classic Dim Sum. In Japan is known as gyoza. Nowadays it can be cooked with almost any kind of ingredient, but it used to be made of meat or vegetables. It’s shape resembles a horn, and that’s why long time ago Jiaozi was written using the Chinese symbol for horn (角).
A type of Dim Sum. One of the most well known, you can recognize it because it has a transparent envelope of dough around itself. It’s transparent due to a special flour, gluten free, that gives the Har Gow it’s unique appearance.
Just so you can appreciate how diverse the Dim Sum technique is, this dish known as «phoenix talons» is cooked by frying chicken feet. You have them fry until they become puffy and inflated, then they are stewed in a sweet and savory sauce flavored with fermented soy beans.
Also known as chinese pork barbacue or even Char Siew. The thing that makes it so special is the red colour the meat presents. This is due to some of the ingredients used during the cooking such as sugar, sherry, soy sauce or food coloring.
Usually presented with thin wrapping, it’s main ingredients are seasoned ground pork, whole and chopped shrimps or chinese black mushrooms. Is consider to have originated in inner Mongolia.
Rice noodle roll
A dish also served as a variety of Dim Sum, as a light snack to start the meals. Funny fact: the rice noodle is also known as chee cheong fun where chee cheong means pig intestine (this is because the shape of the roll resembles the main intestine of a pig) , and fun means noodle. Yes, noodles are fun.
Now it seems you have all prepared to go out there and talk with your friends about Dim Sum. Remember also to pay attention to the tea: the Yum cha (literally means “drink tea”) term makes reference to a type of tea but also to the whole concept of eating Dim Sum, just so you can understand the importance of it. It’s due to the willing of the cantonese people to avoid eating fried food in early ours of the day, prefering always a nice tea and some steamed dumplings.
Stay in tune for more gastronomic features of our blog. See you next week!
Cover image: www.hongkongdimsim.com