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Dim sum are small bite-sized portions of deliciousness that are traditionally served in small bamboo steamer baskets or on a little plate. Dim sum means ‘heart's delight’

The Culture of Dim Sum
Chef Sam Pang at Breeze

Dim sum are small bite-sized portions of deliciousness that are traditionally served in small bamboo steamer baskets or on a little plate. Dim sum means ‘heart's delight’.

Dim sum is linked with the older tradition from yum cha; which literally means: drink tea. Although Dim Sum has long been linked to Cantonese cuisine, it actually originated in the kitchens of Northern China. First gaining popularity on the Silk Road. 

Chef Sam says” “When I worked in Hong Kong I leant that dim sum travelled down the ancient Silk Road in the imaginations of hungry travellers. They returned home dreaming of the food served at those teahouses.”
There is literary evidence to suggest that dim sum cuisine has been around for more than 2000 years. Although it has, of course, changed over the centuries. In the early 20th century there were many developments in the world of dim sum. It is now an integral part of Chinese cuisine culture and widely appreciated around Asia. The filling, pastry and shape depend on the region and climate.

“In Hong Kong and Guangdong dim sum o’clock starts, as the sparrows rise, at 5am! Each Cantonese restaurant has its own signature dish. Yum cha is a casual friendly weekend family day out. But these days it has also become very chic for restaurants to serve dim sum at dinner,” says Chef Sam.

A traditional dim sum meal has a variety of steamed buns cha siu bao (filled with barbecue pork), rice or wheat dumplings like haa gaau (shrimp dumplings), siu mai (pork dumplings) and rice noodle rolls with so many ingredients - including beef, chicken, pork, prawns, and also vegetables.

Chef Sam says: “Making dim sum well takes many years to learn. You have to be precise and dedicated. There are many skills involved in the different aspects of dim sum: frying, steaming, making the wrappings for the dumplings, creating the delicious fillings and making rice noodle rolls.”

To be continued: