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Chinese Food - Dim Sum

Aug 23, 2008
Many non-Chinese think that dim sum is just a steamed dumpling with maybe a dipping sauce to accompany it. However, although that is one type of dim sum, the term "dim sum" does not refer to a single recipe but to a style of serving a vast selection of different snack type items. Usually, these will be provided on a trolley which trundles between tables for diners to make their choices.

Dim sum originated in the Canton province of China and was always served with tea. The custom soon spread to other provinces and indeed, around the globe. Whether at home or in a restaurant, dim sum can be enjoyed and because of the many choices, there is always something for everyone. Dim sum is particularly good for large goups of friends because part of the fun is sharing and tasting a lot of different dishes but it can't really be recommended for couples as the noise and bustle isn't really conducive to a romantic dinner.

Dumplings are indeed popular and are generally made with flour and steamed, resulting is a soft, slightly sticky ball. Nonetheless, it is the filling which differentiates and here there are a huge variety of options.

One type of dumpling is Gau or Gau Ji which consists of a quite fragile rice flour paste stuffed with various vegetables, such as picked cabbage or tofu. These dim sum are quite hard to make because of the delicacy of the past but are full of flavour.

Prawns and shrimps of various types are often used to stuff dim sum dumplings. These may be ground up and used alone or combined with spices, nuts or flavoured oils. Crab roe with Chinese mushrooms is a common filling for dumplings fried squid or other seafood may also be found on the dim sum trolley.

Another variety of dumpling is Chiu-Chao and these are usually filled with prawns or pork combined with mushrooms or peanuts, garlic, spring onions and other flavourings.

Bau is a dumpling glazed with sugar, which turns it from white to brown and which is referred to as a bun. These are stuffed with roast pork and spring onions and are a real delicacy.

Dim sum is ideal for vegetarians as the trolley will often offer rolls stuffed with shredded vegetables such as carrots, cabbage or mushrooms.

So, we've touched on a few of the many varieties of dumplings, buns and rolls but dim sum doesn't stop there.

Other possibilities include a rice porridge called Congee and of course, desserts. Thousand layer cake (Chien Chang Go), made from a sweetened dough with egg is one such and a steamed sponge cake sweetened with molasses is another. For a lighter finish to a meal, tofu drizzled with ginger syrup is a favourite.

We've hardly begun to explore the possibilities of dim sum which, although usually steamed or deep fried, can consist of almost anything snack-like in a small portion. This can include sesame toasts, meatballs, spareribs or even steamed chickens feet. There really is something for everyone so do give it a try.
About the Author
Liz Canham As well as a love of Asian Food and Cookery, Liz seeks to help newcomers to the world of internet marketing with tools, tips and training from her Liz-e-Biz.com website.
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