Dim Sum Dishes: A Guide


Usually, dim sum dishes come in the form of dumplings or buns. The dumplings are usually pleated around the edges for a tight seal. The buns are similar to dumplings, but with a much thicker dough. However, dim sum comes in other forms, such as fried or steamed meats, cakes and rolls. Here are ten of the most popular dim sum dishes:

Ha Gow – Shrimp Dumplings

Dumplings filled with shrimp, bamboo shoots and green onions are known as “ha gow” or “har gow.” Before they are cooked, the shrimp or prawns are peeled and marinated to produce the ideal texture. They are then placed on a wrapper, which is folded over and pleated to create the dumpling. The dumplings are then steamed until the skin begins to turn translucent.

Char Siu Bau – Pork Buns

A bun filled with barbecued pork is known as “char siu bau.” It is steamed to create a light, fluffy texture. Chinese buns are similar to dumplings, but have much thicker dough. The char siu bau is one of the most popular dim sum items around the world.

Nor Mai Gai – Rice Wrapped in Lotus Leaf

In nor mai gai (also known as lo mai gai), shrimp, chicken, pork, green onions, garlic and mushrooms are stir-fried with sticky rice. All of these ingredients are wrapped in a softened lotus leaf and then steamed. You cannot eat the lotus leaf, but it will impart a lovely flavor and aroma to the rice.

Chuen Gyun – Spring Rolls

In China, spring rolls were traditionally served during the Chinese New Year, also known as the “Spring Festival.” This is where they get their name. Vegetables such as cabbage, mushrooms, carrots and cloud ear fungus – a gray-brown jelly fungus also known as “wood ear” – are rolled up in a thin, translucent wrap. They are usually deep fried, but they can be steamed as well. They are similar to egg rolls, but are not battered with egg.

Char Siu Sou – Pork Pastries

A popular form of dim sum, char siu sou is a flaky pastry filled with barbecued pork. It is baked, not steamed. This ensures that the pastry has a flaky texture. They are very popular in China and are often topped with sesame seeds.

Yao Yu Sou – Fried Calamari

A popular dish in the U.S. and other Western countries, yao yu sou is squid or octopus that is dipped in a wet batter then deep fried. Usually, it will be served with a dipping sauce, often resembling sweet and sour sauce.

Sui Mai – Pork and Mushroom Dumplings

Dumplings filled with pork, shrimp and mushrooms are known as sui mai. The fillings are chopped small, fried and seasoned, then wrapped in a thin dumpling dough. The dumplings are steamed, then topped with fish roe, carrots or other garnishes.

Cheong Fun – Steamed Rice Roll

A steamed rice roll, also known as a rice noodle roll, is called “gee cheong fun” in Chinese. It consists of a filling of steamed shrimp, beef, barbecue pork and often vegetables, rolled up in an extra wide rice noodle, which is usually pre-steamed.

Fung Jao – Fried Chicken Feet

In the dish known as “fung zao” or “phoenix talons” in English, chicken feet are fried, then boiled with ginger and star anise, then marinated for at least 24 hours. This time-consuming process will create beautifully puffy and moist chicken feet.

Wu Tao Go – Taro Pudding Cake

“Wu tao go” is a savory cake made from rice flour and taro root. It is often combined with chicken, pork belly, Chinese sausages and mushrooms. It is then fried in a frying pan until it is crunchy. When served, it is often garnished with green onions.

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