Dim Sum is a cuisine from Southern China’s Canton region that characterizes Chinese food. Dim Sum dishes are small plates of distinct creations made to be shared like tapas. The food is served with Chinese tea and shared with companion. However, what makes “doing Dim Sum” really standout is appreciating the comprehensive experience of tea, food, and ambiance that comes along with it.
After being seated at your table and ordering tea [Doing Dim Sum Right — Tea], there will be a dizzying array of food options around you. Depending on what type of Dim Sum restaurant you are at you may or may not have the time to observe and understand your options as servers are trying to unload their cargo on your table.
Your food preferences are your own, but while there is a huge quantity of Dim Sum dishes, I have compiled below what I believe are the common Dim Sum dishes that are worth trying and/or are must-haves at every Dim Sum outing (number of hungry people allowing). Feel free to comment on any disagreements.
The Dim Sum experience is about sampling a large variety of food: dumplings, steamed and baked pastries, rolled noodles, rice cakes, deep-fried pastry puffs, and various miscellaneous specialty items! Let’s begin!
Dumplings are often referenced to illustrate Chinese appetizers. It is therefore no surprise that some of the Dim Sum must-haves in every visit are the dumpling types described below.
虾饺, XiaJiao, Har-gow, Shrimp Dumplings This steamed dish of juicy, plump shrimp wrapped in translucent rice wrapper is often iconic of dim sum cuisine. Small shreds of minced bamboo shoots or water chestnuts are often tethered with the succulent lumps of shrimp.
烧卖, ShaoMai, SiuMai, Shumai. A combination of pork, mushroom, and shrimp wrapped in a wonton wheat wrapper and steamed to perfection, Shumai is always part of the dim sum table.
潮州粉果, ChiaoZhouFenGuo, ChiuChaoFanGuo, Chu Chow Dumplings. Steamed dumpling with pork, shrimp, peanuts, and cilantro. The savory and crisp filling gives an enjoyable contrast to the soft, tender rice wrapper around it.
韭菜饺, JiuCaiJiao, GawTsoyGow, Chive Dumplings. Often mixed with shrimp paste, steamed chive dumplings contain an explosion of refreshing aromatic flavors.