Dim Sum--'Touch the heart' goodies

Who would not enjoy a food that translated from Cantonese means 'touch the heart' or 'little bit of heart'?  Dim sum, pastries served three or four to a plate, are just such a food. 

Dim sum
by Vicki Liley.
North Clarendon, VT : Tuttle Pub., c2006.
A contemporary collection of the latest food trends -- easy to prepared, beautifully presented, and easy to eat. From Asian treats to Spanish Tapas to Mexican wraps and Italian antipastos, even pastries and sweets. Beautifully presented in the crisp, clean style of the entire Essential Kitchen Series. If it can be dipped, dunked, skewered, or popped in your mouth, you'll find it inside.
Dim sum made easy
Lucille Liang.
New York : Sterling Pub. Co., Inc., c2006.
  1. "The material in this book has been adapted from : Chinese Regional Cooking c2002 by Lucille Liang."
  2. Includes index.
Dim sum : a pocket guide
by Kit Shan Li.
San Francisco : Chronicle Books, c2004.
With its small plates and endless assortment of dishes, dim sum is an increasingly popular way to do brunch. For those new to this fun feast, or regulars looking to try a different dish, "Dim Sum" is the ultimate guidebook to this traditional Chinese meal. Perfect for popping into a purse or pocket, this handy guide identifies the 50 most popular dim sum dishes with full-color photographs, short descriptions of the ingredients, the names of the dishes in English and Cantonese, and how to pronounce them. As the carts roll by, a quick glance at the book will tell a jean gow choy bang (Chive Dumpling) from mong gwor bo deen (Mango Pudding), and demystify the contents of that bamboo steamer. With tips on restaurant etiquette and how-tos for everything from refilling the teapot to handling chopsticks, "Dim Sum" is yum yum for everyone.
Dim sum : the art of Chinese tea lunch
written and illustrated by Ellen Leong Blonder.
New York : Clarkson Potter, c2002.
In Cantonese, "dim sum" means "touch the heart," and Ellen Blonder's charming celebration of China's famed tea lunch does just that. More than sixty carefully crafted, authentic recipes, each illustrated with Ellen's exquisite watercolor paintings, put the key to re-creating these delectable morsels in every cook's hand. Anyone who has enjoyed the pleasures of a dim sum meal has inevitably wondered what it would be like to create these treats at home. The answer, surprisingly, is that most are quite simple to make. From dumplings to pastries, Dim Sum is filled with simple, foolproof recipes, complete with clear step-by-step illustrations to explain the art of forming, filling, and folding dumpling wrappers and more. Ellen Blonder offers her favorite versions of traditional Pork and Shrimp Siu Mai, Turnip Cake, and Shrimp Ha Gow, each bite vibrantly flavored, plus recipes for hearty sticky rice dishes, refreshing saut #233;ed greens, tender baked or steamed buns, and a variety of pastries and desserts-all the ingredients required for an authentic, restaurant-style dim sum feast. Practical advice on designing a tea lunch menu and making dim sum ahead of time round out this irresistible collection. Lovingly created from years of tasting, refining, and seeking out the best dim sum recipes from San Francisco to Hong Kong, Dim Sum is a gem that any student of Chinese cooking will treasure.
Dim sum : delicious Asian finger food
Fiona Smith ; photography by William Lingwood.
New York : Ryland Peters & Small, 2001.
Dim sum are the hundreds of tiny dishes served at the great yum cha lunches enjoyed in Chinese restaurants around the world. Diners are offered their choice from trolley after trolley of bamboo steamers holding amazing treats. In this book, exciting new author Fiona Smith shows you how to make dim sum, and lots of modern variations, with easy-to-follow cooking methods and William Lingwood's striking photographs. You will be introduced to such delights as Kaffir Lime and Lemongrass Steamed Dumplings, Mini Hoisin Spare Ribs, and Orange and Almond Fortune Cookies. Dim Sum includes 30 delectable recipes that are guaranteed to add an exotic flavor to your next party or supper with friends.
Have some dim sum
Evelyn Chau ; photograph, Vince Noguchi ; illustrations, Vince McIndoe.
Toronto : E. Chau, c1998.
Going out for Dim Sum is one of the most exciting food experiences there is. There's an unparalleled range of taste sensations wrapped in the tiny little bundles that may be steamed, fried, braised, baked, or roasted. It's elegant fast food where one chooses from carts laden with piping hot dishes.

Dim Sum can be intimidating for people whose foray into Chinese food has been limited to eating occasional take-out with a fork. Although sometimes it's best to throw caution to the wind, it's even better to bring along a book that will guide you to the taste you want and uncover the mysteries of those innocuous looking dumplings. A list of contents is provided, and there are even gorgeous pictures to point to when you're in doubt. Have Some Dim Sum also includes 20 recipes for when you want to cook at home, as well as illustrations of Chinese grocery items for your shopping ease.


There are hundreds of varieties of dim sum.  Some are savory dumplings (steamed or fried), pancakes, buns, or noodles.  They may be filled with vegatables or meats.  Other dim sum are sweet pastries. 

Part of the fun of a dim sum meal is its presentation.  In China servers push carts around the room that are full of plates with different dim sum pastries.  Instead of choosing all the pastries at once, diners keep choosing different ones throughout the meal.  Sweets are not saved to the end of the meal, but rather mixed with the savories. At the end of the meal the number of plates are counted and the bill calculated.  

Tea and dim sum

Tea is a traditional complement for dim sum.  To ask for a new pot of tea, say 'yut woo __' (fill in blank with your choice of tea listed with pronounciation)

Oolong Tea:   woo long cha
Jasmine Tea:  hong peen cha
Daffodil Tea:  suey seen cha

(from Dim Sum by Kit Shan Li)

A few typical dim sum selections that are delicious to eat include: Stuffed crab claws (Yung hai kim), stuffe bean curd (Yung dau fu), stuffed lotus leaves (Nor mai gai), scallion pancakes (Chung Yau bang), pork buns (Guk char siu bau), dumplings (sui mai), and shrimp dumplings (har gau).

Dim Sum is usually though of as a Cantonese specialty. The different types of dim sum reflect the area of where they originate. For example, pancakes come from the northwest, where buns are from the north.

Dim Sum is a specialized Chinese cuisine that requires ingredients that are easily found at a Chinese or other Asian grocery store.  For dim sum, there is a heavy accent on the fashioning of dough used. Thus, the specific type of flour used is important.

Ginger root

Typical ingredients used to make dim sum include:  Bamboo shoots, bean curd, bean sprouts, fermented black beans, bok choy, Chinese bacon, Chinese black mushrooms, Chinese sausage, Chinese white turnip, coriander, curry powder, five-spice powder, ginger, glutinous rice, hoisin sauce, lotus leaves, oyster sauce, preserved eggs, rice noodle, sesame oil, dried shrimp, soya sauce, tapioca flour, taro root, and water chestnut.

The cooking utensils used in Chinese cookery include: Wok, steamer, spatula, cleaver, bamboo chopsticks, strainers, rolling pin, and dough scraper.  Each cook can select to add their own particular utensils.

Interested in tasting some of the many dim sum varieties?  St. Louis has several restaurants that serve dim sum breakfasts, brunches and lunches.  If you prefer to experiment on your own, consider hosting a dim sum party.  Be sure to include family and friends so all can enjoy the delectible goodies that 'touch the heart.'

Article by: St. Louis Public Library staff