Dim Sum

19 09 2007

Because I’m often thinking ahead to the next meal, and I’m planning a trip to California in October, I’ve started thinking about how I might sample some dim sum in San Francisco. That led to a query on the topic, which I’ll share with you now, thanks to Wikipedia:

Dim sum is the name for a Chinese cuisine which involves a wide range of light dishes served alongside Chinese tea. It can include dishes based on meat, seafood, vegetables, as well as desserts and fruit. The various items are usually served in a small steamer basket or on a small plate.

The Cantonese phrase Dim Sum (點心) means literally “touch the heart” or “order to your heart’s content”. It may be derived from yat dim sum yi (一點心意), meaning “a little token”. (“A Touch of Heart” is perhaps the more poetic translation.) Though the English word “dim sum” refers to the Cantonese variety, the idea of a wide variety of small dishes for lunch also holds for other regions of China.

Traditional dim sum includes various types of steamed buns such as cha siu baau, dumplings and rice noodle rolls (cheong fun), which contain a range of ingredients. Many dim sum restaurants also offer plates of steamed green vegetables, roasted meats, congee porridge and other soups.

In Hong Kong, and most cities and towns in Guangdong province, many Chinese restaurants start serving as early as five in the morning. It is a tradition for the elderly to gather to eat dim sum after morning exercises, often enjoying the morning newspapers. For many southerners in China, yum cha is treated as a weekend family day. Consistent with this tradition, dim sum restaurants typically only serve dim sum until the afternoon (right around the time of a traditional Western 3 o’clock coffee break).




2 responses

20 09 2007

Talk to Shawn. He took Greg and I for a killer dim sum lunch one day in SF years ago. I’ve always wanted to do it again. Think of how fun a lunch of bizarre foods would be in Chinatown!

21 09 2007

This makes me hungry just to read it. I’ve never had dim sum (where would we go for it?), but I’ve always liked the idea. Is it something a person could prepare at home?

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