Teaching Dim sum Cooking

Dim sum /ˈdimˈs�m/ (Chinese: 點心; pinyin: diǎnxīn; Cantonese Yale: dímsām) is a style of Chinese cuisine (particularly Cantonese but also other varieties) prepared as small bite-sized portions of food served in small steamer baskets or on small plates. Dim sum dishes are usually served with tea, and together form a full tea brunch. Dim sum traditionally are served as fully cooked, ready-to-serve dishes. In Cantonese teahouses, carts with dim sum will be served around the restaurant for diners to order from without leaving their seats. The Cantonese tradition of having endless cups of tea and dim sum is also called yum cha (飲茶), which means "drink tea" in Cantonese.



Dim sum is usually linked with the older tradition from yum cha (Chinese: 飲茶; Cantonese Yale: yám chàh; pinyin: yǐnchá; literally: "drink tea"), which has its roots in travelers on the ancient Silk Road needing a place to rest. Thus, teahouses were established along the roadside. An imperial physician in the third century wrote that combining tea with food would lead to excessive weight gain[citation needed]. People later discovered that tea can aid in digestion, so teahouse owners began adding various snacks.

The unique culinary art dim sum originated with the Cantonese in Guangzhou (or Canton), who over the centuries transformed yum cha from a relaxing respite to a loud and happy dining experience. In Hong Kong, and in most cities and towns in Guangdong province, many restaurants start serving dim sum as early as five in the morning. It is a tradition for the elderly to gather to eat dim sum after morning exercises. For many in southern China, yum cha is treated as a weekend family day. More traditional dim sum restaurants typically serve dim sum until mid-afternoon. However, in modern society, it has become commonplace for restaurants to serve dim sum at dinner time; various dim sum items are even sold as take-out for students and office workers on the go.



  • Spare ribs (排骨; páigǔ; pàaih gwāt): Steamed pork spare ribs with douchi and sometimes garlic and chili.
  • Lotus leaf rice (糯米雞; nuòmǐ jī; noh máih gāi): Glutinous rice wrapped in a lotus leaf. Typically contains egg yolk, dried scallop, mushroom, and meat (usually pork and chicken). A lighter variant is known as "Pearl Chicken" (珍珠雞; zhēnzhū jī; jānjyū gāi).
  • Chinese sticky rice (糯米飯; nuòmǐ fàn; noh máih faahn): Stir fried (or steamed) glutinous rice with Chinese Sausage, mushroom and spring onions.
  • Deep fried squid (魷魚鬚; yóuyúxū; yàuh yùh sōu): Similar to fried calamari, the battered squid is deep-fried.
  • Congee (粥; zhōu; jūk): Rice porridge such as the "Preserved Egg and Pork Porridge" (皮蛋瘦肉粥; pídàn shòuròu zhōu; pèihdáan sauyuhk jūk)




  • Egg custard tarts (蛋撻)
  • Egg tart (Chinese: 蛋撻; pinyin: dàntǎ; Cantonese Yale: daahn tāat): Baked tart with egg custard filling.
  • Tofu pudding (豆腐花; dòufuhuā; dauh fuh fā): Soft tofu served with a sweet ginger or jasmine flavored syrup.
  • Sesame ball (煎堆; jiānduī; jīn dēui): Deep fried chewy dough with red bean paste filling, coated in sesame seeds.
  • Thousand-layer cake (千層糕; qiāncéng gāo; chīnchàhng gōu): A dessert made up of many layers of sweet egg dough.
  • Malay sponge cake (馬拉糕; mǎlā gāo; máhlāai gōu): Steamed sponge cake flavoured with molasses.
  • White sugar sponge cake:(白糖糕; báitáng gāo; baahk tòng gōu): Steamed sponge cake made with white sugar.
  • Coconut pudding (椰汁糕; yēzhī gāo; yèh jāp gōu): Light and spongy but creamy puddings made with coconut milk, with a thin clear jelly layer made with coconut water on top.
  • Mango pudding (芒果布甸; mángguǒ bùdiàn; mōnggwó boudīn): A sweet, rich mango-flavoured pudding usually with large chunks of fresh mango; often served with a topping of evaporated milk.


There are common tea-drinking and eating practices or etiquette that Chinese people commonly recognize and use. These are practiced not only during dim sum meals but during other types of Chinese meals as well.

It is customary to pour tea for others before filling one's own cup during a meal. When pouring tea for people on one's left side, the right hand should be used to hold the teapot and vice versa. A common custom among the Cantonese is to thank the person pouring the tea by tapping the bent index finger (if you are single), or by tapping both the index and middle finger

(if you are married), which symbolizes the gesture of bowing.[6][7]

This custom is said to be analogous to the ritual of bowing to someone in appreciation. The origin of this gesture is described anecdotally: The Qianlong Emperor went to yum cha with his friends, outside the palace; not wanting to attract attention to himself, the Emperor was disguised. While at yum cha, the Emperor poured his companion some tea, which was a great honor. The companion, not wanting to give away the Emperor's identity in public by bowing, instead tapped his index and middle finger on the table as a sign of appreciation.

Given the number of times tea is poured in a meal, the tapping is a timesaver in loud restaurants or lively company, as an individual being served might be speaking to someone else or have food in their mouth. If a diner does not wish a refill being offered at that time, the fingers are used to "wave off" or politely decline more tea. This does not preclude taking more fresh hot tea at a later time during the meal.

Leaving the lid balanced on the side of the tea pot is a common way of attracting a server's attention, and indicates a silent request that the tea pot be refilled.