China has always been home to an unlimited number of interesting and exciting traditions that are worth discovering. One of them is going with friends and families for yum cha, a sort of brunch consisting
China has always been home to an unlimited number of interesting and exciting traditions that are worth discovering. One of them is going with friends and families for yum cha, a sort of brunch consisting of dim sum and hot tea and traditionally eaten in the morning or early afternoon. Dim sum is a Cantonese cuisine made of various small dishes and is native to Guangdong province. Although these little delicacies are now particularly famous in Hong Kong, Dim Sum can now be found in multiple parts of the world.
Yet, if you are new to Dim Sum, you can easily be overwhelmed because of its numerous variations. If you go to a restaurant that still follows the traditional wheeled carts methods of serving where you can see what you are ordering, you are lucky. However, in many places, you will have to order from a menu that has at least 15 to 20 options of dim sum. And not knowing what you should order could be quite mind-boggling. Relax! We’ve got you covered!
Here are the main types and most delicious dim sum that exist:
1. Siu Mai/Shaomai/Shu Mai (Pork Dumplings)
This one is an iconic dim sum dish and is an essential basket of any dim sum feast. These are shaped into small cups and filled with minced pork and shrimp, ginger, scallions, bamboo shoots and are topped with mushrooms. Once these mouth-watering preparation pop into your mouth, you won’t want to stop eating them.
2. Har Gow/Xia Jiao (Shrimp Dumplings)
Shrimp dumplings are another dim sum staple that you would want to try. Stuffed with small pieces of shrimp, pork fat, and bamboo shoots, which are wrapped in translucent and slightly sticky rice flour wrapper, those Har Gow are juicy when you bite them.
3. Char Siu Bao (BBQ Pork Stuffed Buns)
These Dim Sums are either baked or steamed. The best-steamed versions are snow-white, extremely fluffy, and very soft. The baked version is usually more golden brown and glazed with a dash of honey syrup. They both are filled with roasted and sweet char siu (roasted bbq pork prepared with soy sauce, honey, and some Chinese spices).
4. Xiaolongbao (Steamed Soup Dumplings)
Steamed Soup Dumplings are worldly famous, especially in Shanghai, where you can taste the best versions. The Xiaolongbao are stuffed with pork and soup that is extremely hot. They are very delicious, but you have to be very careful when eating them; hold them from the top and gently bite them on the side and slowly drink the stock.
5. Lo Mai Gai/Nuomi Ji (Sticky Rice Chicken Lotus Leaf Wrap)
Lo Mai Gai are the most filling dishes that you can order. Delicately wrapped in lotus leaves, the sticky steamed rice is cooked with pork, chicken, mushroom, and some light seasonings. A more modern version uses banana leaves for wrapping instead of lotus leaves that are rare in some countries, especially in the States.
6. Lo Bak Go/Luobo Gao (Radish Cake)
Radish cakes are another version of the traditional turnip cakes, which are too intense for some palates. Lo Bak Go is made from a radish and rice flour batter and sometimes mixed with dried shrimp, scallions, and Chinese sausages.
7. Wu Gok (Fried Taro Dumplings)
Taro is a starchy root veggie that can be used in both savory meals and desserts. In the Wu Gok, the taro is mashed and mixed with ground pork and mushrooms. The dumplings are then fried to get a nice crispy texture.
8. Jian Dui (Sesame Balls)
If you want to end your meal with a lovely traditional dessert, this is the one you should go for. Jian Dui are made from glutinous rice flour and usually filled with red/black beans (some modern versions are stuffed with peanut butter). They are exquisitely chewy and slightly sticky but crunchy on the outside as they are rolled in sesame seeds and then fried.
Although there are so many Dim Sum types that exist, those mentioned above are definitely the ones you have to try. Plus, you are now better prepared to start your Dim Sum journey! Don’t forget to leave a comment once you’ve tasted these delicious Cantonese dishes.