Dim Sum: Your Ultimate Guide To Chinese Cuisine With Recipe

Considering my much love for the dim sum I tried out a lot of variety of dim sum dishes. So, if you are someone like me then you will love what’s coming ahead of you.

Out of the love for Chinese cuisine and the dim sum I have gathered all you can know about dim sums. Count this one as an ultimate guide to dim sum.

Here’s what to expect from this article. You will get to know about dim sum and all the different types of dim sums.

Then most importantly I will share my top 10 dim sum recipes with you. So, let’s get this show on the way.

What Is Dim Sum?

dim sum chicken roll

This part is for those who don’t know much about dim sum. I know this might come as a shocker to many but dim sum is not a single dish.

It’s more of a dining style for the Cantonese people. It’s a heritage of Chinese cuisine all around.

If you want to get the real essence of Dim sum then I suggest you visit a traditional Dim sum restaurant. You will notice the difference from the get-go.

But if that’s not possible for you then here are some things to know about Dim sums.

Dim sum is food for the brunch hours. So, it’s best to take Dim sums between lunch and breakfast.

In a typical Dim sum setup, you will always find some type of Tea which is the beverage of the cuisine. Along with that, there are several bite-sized portions of meals you get.

In a Dim sum menu, you may find various types of dishes. The common ones you will find are dumplings, spring rolls, and hot steamed buns.

These are known to the true form of dim sum. Apart from that, there are various kinds of dishes that are either baked, fried, or steamed.

They may come with different options as well. Such as chicken, beef, pork, or seafood variant.

If I were to put things shortly then I would say the dim sum is a complete cuisine with a variety of options served with tea. The best part of dim sum is it’s a family-style dish.

This means you have to eat it with your family and share a dish altogether.

Dim Sum Types

I have been through a lot of Dim sums dishes from different restaurants and articles. So, I can tell you if you start looking for Dim sum types you will end up with more than 100 results guaranteed.

Having said that there are some classics of the traditional Dim sum style dining that you must try.

Before we check out the different types, let me tell you about the tea you get along with it. The most common option for tea with dim sum is “Bo Lay”.

This is a tea with some strong earthly flavor and a dark brown color. It helps you digest the food. But if you want some taste in your tea you can try out “Tieguanyin” which is a type of Oolong tea. It has got a fruity flavor with a soothing aroma.

Now, let’s get to the different types of dim sums you can get. First, let’s take a look at some steamed ones.

  • Har Gow

har gow dim sum

This is a shrimp dumpling that is very popular throughout the world. I mean who doesn’t like shrimp right?

I don’t know about anyone else but for me, this is the classic choice for any dim sum cuisine. Like I said earlier this is a dumpling dish that is typically steamed.

  • BBQ Pork Buns

Another popular dim sum dish is pork buns. It’s a fan favorite in many places. Everyone loves to have meat in their food and this one gives them just that.

And the buns are usually so soft that they complete the dish with all their softness.

Here are some fried ones-

  • Turnip cake or Lo Bak Gou

This is a well-known dish in the UK. They also call it a Radish cake. It’s very moist and tasty in the fried version.

This also comes in a steamed variant but people mostly prefer this one as a fried dish.

  • Zhaliang

If you are a vegan this is the dish you will love. It’s filled with carbs and completely vegetarian in nature. But that doesn’t take away the awesome taste you get from the fried dough in silky noodles.

Are you a sweet lover? Well, there are some dim sum options you can’t resist then.

  • Mango pudding

You can just assume from the name that this is going to be tasty. It’s a sweet pudding made of organic mangoes.

You might even find some chunks of mangoes here and there. And the topping of this one comes as evaporated milk.

  • Egg tarts

This isn’t the most traditional dish from China. However, in dim sum, it has made its place gracefully. It is a classic dessert choice for all the dim sum lovers including me.

It’s a tart made of egg, and it feels more like a custard.

Apart from all these, there are a lot more varieties of types of dim sums. Want to know how to make some? Then hop on the train because I will be sharing some of my favorite recipes and how I cook them.

Dim Sum Recipes

I won’t be sharing the recipes for making some tea to go along with your dim sum dining. You can easily find them at any store.

Here, I will get you through some of the popular dishes that you can find in a dim sum cuisine and you can make them at your home. Let’s get started.

  1. Har Gow or Chinese Shrimp Dumplings

Do you love seafood? Or maybe you love shrimp. Either way, you will love this one and it’s one of my favorite dim sum dishes of them all. And here’s how I make them.

To make one serving of Har Gow I use the following ingredients-

The Dough:

Wheat starch¾ cup
Tapioca Starch2 tbsp
Kosher Salt¼ tbsp
Vegetable oil2 ½ tbsp

The Filling:

Shrimp6 ounces
Bamboo shoots3 tbsp
Green onion1 ½ tbsp
Chinese rice wine¾ tbsp
Sesame oil¼ tbsp
Kosher saltAccording to taste
White pepper1/8 tbsp
Egg white1 large
Cornstarch2 tbsp

For my convenience, I like to gather all the ingredients in one place. Before I begin making the dish, I like to chop the shrimps, bamboo shoots, green onions, ground the white pepper, and beat the egg.

Also, I take some extra amount of the ingredients if I feel like changing them.

  • The first thing I make for this is the dough. To make the dough you can put the wheat starch, salt, and tapioca starch all together in a bowl. I usually take a medium-sized bowl so I can have enough space to work with the dough.
  • Then, I put in half a cup of boiling water and slowly stir the dough. Then I add vegetable oil into the mixhar gow and put my hand in it.
  • I usually start mixing it then and keep checking the consistency. If it feels a bit try you can add some water. After a couple of minutes of shaping the dough, it finds the right consistency.
  • Once the dough looks smooth, I cover it with a cloth or paper and leave it to rest. You can let the dough rest for about 20 minutes.
  • Now, comes the filling. For the filling, all you have to do is take all the ingredients and mix them in a bowl. It should have a mushy consistency in it. After done mixing, you have to keep it in the refrigerator for an hour.
  • While the filling is getting ready, you can start working on forming the dumplings. How you want to form them is up to you. I usually form them in a half-circle shape. First of all, I oil my cutting board completely so the dough doesn’t stick to the surface.
  • Then I take some dough into my hand and roll it into a ball. After that, I press the dough ball in the palm of my left hand which flattens the dough.
  • I do this for the entirety of the dough. And cover them up in the bowl so they don’t get dry. You can either do this or you can start making forming the dumplings after the filling is prepared. I like to use the time to make the dumpling bases.
  • Once the filling is ready, I put the doughs on the oily surface of the cutting board. Then I take some filling accordingly and put them on top of the dough. Then I fold the wrapper from one side to get the shape. Finally, to keep the edges locked I use a fork to close the edges. Sometimes I pinch them as well.
  • After I have done filling in all the wrappers, I start cooking the dumplings. Now, here’s the tricky part there are several ways to do this. You can do it in a rice cooker or on the stove. I will be discussing the stove method here for your convenience.
  • You have to take a pan that is deep enough to hold 2 to 3 inches of water. Then on a steamer put a plate with a few of the wrapped fillings. It would take about 15 minutes for the wrappers to be translucent. Also, the inside filling should have an orangey color by then.
  • Follow this for the rest of the dumplings. Make sure to do this procedure in batches. Once all the batches are done enjoy it with some soy sauce and chili oil.

In my experience eating the dumplings right after cooking them is the best time. The more you wait the harder the exterior gets. You can savor the taste when it’s hot.

  1. Lotus Leaf Wraps 

Another classic dish of the dim sum cuisine. Once you get some taste of the amazing Har Gow appetizer you would want to dive right into the leaf wraps to fill your stomach.

And making this isn’t that difficult at all. Let’s see how to make it.

You will need the following ingredients to make this dish-

Lotus leaves4 pieces cut in half
Sticky rice1 ¼ cup
Black mushrooms (dried)4 pieces
Boneless chicken breast6 ounces
Salt¼ tbsp
Dry sherry1 tbsp
Cornstarch1 tbsp
Sausages2 pieces
Garlic1 clove
Chinese Rice wine1 tbsp
Soy sauce (dark)1 tbsp
Soy sauce (light)1 tbsp
Cornstarch1 ½ tbsp
Vegetable oil2 tbsp
Sesame oil¼ tbsp
Black pepperAccording to taste

To make the cooking process easier and faster I like to do some things. You can consider all these as a preparation for the recipe as well.

First of all, I soak the leaves and the rice for an hour before I begin making the dish. Also, I like to take the skin off of the chicken if it has any.

Then, I peel and chop the garlic beforehand. I soak the mushrooms in hot water 30 minutes before cooking.

Now, let’s proceed to the cooking procedure.

  • I like to start by patting the leaves and get them dry. Also, drain all the water from the rice.
  • The cooking starts by steaming the rice. To do that I usually use a steamer with a cabbage. I put the rice on the cabbage and put the steamer on top of a wok. Make sure that the water isn’t touching the rice you want the steam of the water to cook the rice for you. It takes about 20 minutes to steam the rice in this method.
  • Then I take out the mushrooms that will supposedly be soft by now. You have to take out all the extra water coming from the mushroom. After that cut the bottom part of the stem and chop them finely.
  • Next up is cutting the chicken into tiny pieces. I usually cut them into little cubes so it’s easier to mix them with the rice. After cutting the chicken I add the ingredients to marinate the chicken. To marinate you have to add salt, rice wine, and cornstarch with the chicken and keep it still for 20 minutes.
  • Then you have to begin with the sausages. All you do here is chop the sausages into fine pieces. You can also do this in the preparation stage.
  • In this stage of cooking, I will usually make the real stuff for the dish. To do that you have to take two bowls. In one bowl add the rice wine and two types of soy sauce. In another bowl dissolve the cornstarch in 1tbsp water. Then mix the two and whisk for a while.
  • Now, you have to take a wok and heat it. Then add 2 tbsp oil. Once the oil gets hot add garlic and fries them for about 30 seconds. Add the chicken cubes and fry them. Keep stirring until the chicken turns white and almost cooked thoroughly.
  • At this point, I add the sausages and mushrooms to it. Fry them for 60 seconds or so. Then add the sauce mixture I made earlier on. To make it thick quickly I keep stirring the mixture. The end it with some pepper according to my taste bud.
  • Finally, I take it off the cook after two minutes and give it stir with some sesame oil. This is it for the initial cooking. To make the dish what it is you have to put all the ingredients into the lotus leaf.
  • I like to put the rice in the leaf first and create a hollow circle in the middle. There I put in all the meat and vegetables. Then cover the hollow with the rice. And create a parcel of the whole thing by folding the leaf.
  • Lastly, you have to steam the parcel for about 15 minutes to give it the flavor. You can do that using the bamboo steamer.

With the proper kind of preparation, this dish is very simple to cook. Also, it doesn’t take much time if you are efficiently doing things. Watch this video, lotus leaf wrap easily.

Also Read: List of Traditional Vietnamese Dishes.

How Healthy Is Dim Sum? 


As a Dim sum lover, myself I have to burst your bubble here. Dim sum is not a healthy dish at all. It has a lot of calories.

Although the value of food nutrients depends mostly on the different dishes and recipes. Still, on average a single item from a Dim sum style dish may contain 70 to 90 calories at least.

Coming to the fat and carbs aspect of Dim sums, well they don’t hold back at that. Most of the dim sum dishes are filled with oil and fat.

Also, the outer layer of dumplings, rolls, and buns tend to have a lot of carbs as well. Even with the steamed variant of dim sum dishes, you will be taking in a lot of calories in small amounts.

The worst part of Dim sum has to be the small portions of food. Once you start getting into dim sum dishes it’s hard to get off of them. because they will come in tiny portions and you will keep eating them. In the end, it’s not the healthiest of food you can have.

Dim Sum Vs. Dumplings: Are They Same?

dim sum dumplings

Like many of you, I love Chinese food. Being a foodie and having a passion for cooking myself I can tell they are at least worth a try.

And whenever I think about Chinese cuisine, dim sum is a constant name in that list. Wherever I go to have Chinese food I would look for dim sums.

By now you already know that dumplings and dim sum are not the same. While dumplings are a type of dish, dim sums are a style of cuisine. Dim sums have a different variety of dishes in them. Dumpling is a popular variant among them.

So, to make it easier for you Dim sum is a collection of some dishes while dumpling is a variant of dish.

Frequently Asked Questions  (FAQs) 

Here are some common questions regarding Dim sums-

Is Dim sum healthy?

Answer:  No, Dim sums aren’t a healthy option for eating. They have a high-calorie intake with lots of fats and carbs.

What’s the best time to have dim sums?

Answer:  Usually, the best time to have dim sums is at brunch. Although typically in china they consider 5 A.M. to be the best time to have dim sums.

Is dim sum too expensive?

Answer: Not at all. Dim sums are some of the cheapest yet tastiest food you can eat anywhere. They have a lot of varieties which gives you a lot of options as well.

Can you make dim sum at home?

Answer: Yes, you can make a lot of variants of dim sum dishes at home. All you need are some ingredients and tools. Especially, the bamboo steamer is a necessary item to have.

Are there vegan options in dim sum?

Answer: Yes, you can find a lot of different veg dishes in dim sum cuisine. However, the traditional ones may not have many vegan options.

Final Words 

Well, here we are at the end. If you are someone like me with a love for Chinese food you must have loved this. And if you haven’t tried any dim sum dishes till now, I highly recommend trying out the recipes I shared.

They are the most authentic dishes served in a dim sum. So, once you get the taste of them you will know what a wonderful realm Chinese cuisine is.

Lastly, if you want to eat healthily you can surely try some vegan variants of dim sum. But in my personal opinion as a cook myself trying out the traditional dim sum is a must in this lifetime. Because it’s totally worth all the calories.

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