Dim Sum for Dummies

Some like cream cheese and cucumber sandwiches with their tea, other prefer biscuits. In China, it’s dim sum all the way. Literally meaning “to touch your heat”, dim sum is a Chinese eating custom which sprung from Cantonese teahouses. Varying from savory to sweet and everything in between, the beauty of dim sum rests on enjoying an assortment of Chinese goodies in small portions while sipping tea.

And while most of us in Dubai can probably recite the mezzeh menu off by heart, it’s important to expand your tastebuds to new territories. It’s understandable that you probably have no idea what to order or what you’re eating. The ever-present question in your head of wait, is that chicken, or shrimp… or tofu? With this handy guide, you can order 5 of the most common dim sum dishes like a pro, so that next time someone asks you “what’s in this one?” you can give a better answer than “just eat it.”

Delicious as it may be, good dim sum is quite difficult to come by. Click here to discover restaurants that serve these hot little balls of steamed heaven.

Har Gau (Steamed Shrimp Dumplings)

Translucent shrimp dumplings with a wheat starch skin that’s cut with    tapioca to give it extra stretchiness and translucency. These are one of the most difficult dumplings to make properly: the skin should be translucent yet sturdy, slightly chewy but not tough, with perfectly cooked, crisp shrimp inside.






Siu Mai (Open-Topped Steamed Shrimp Dumplings)

Made with a wheat flour wrapper, they often come topped with fish roe or grated carrot, or occasionally a single pea.


Cha Siu Bao (Steamed Barbecue Beef/Chicken-Stuffed Buns)

The classic steamed yeasted buns stuffed with Chinese-style barbecue chicken or beef. The dough has a soft, dense crumb similar to American sandwich bread, while the filling is savory and sweet.







Jin Deui (Fried Glutinous Rice Balls)

These balls have the stretchy, chewy texture of Japanese mochi (which is essentially identical). They get coated with sesame seeds and deep-fried until they puff, and are then piped with a sweet filling like lotus paste or red bean paste.






Chiu-chao fan guo (Steamed Dumpling with Shrimp and Peanuts)

A crunchy, fresh-tasting mix of shrimp and peanuts, often flavored with cilantro and crisp chunks of jicama. These are awesome if you’re looking for a unique textural experience in your dumplings.