Dim Sum 101

Dim sum, literally means "point heart" in Cantonese, originated in the Canton region of China. They are traditional Chinese delicacies meant to be nibbled at and washed down with tea. One can find huge crowds of people at dim sum teahouses and restaurants from early morning to late evening. These gathering places play an important role in the social lives of the community.

In large places, dim sum are kept hot in bamboo steamers with lids and wheeled around on rolling carts by waitresses. To place an order, you either wait for the waitress to stop at your table or catch her attention. She then lifts the lids to show what's underneath. All you do is point, nod your head or say what you want and if there's something you want that she has, she serves the dim sum in the bamboo steamers.

Dim sum ranges from steamed, translucent dumplings to sweet egg tarts to stir-fried green vegetables with oyster sauce. Although neither Cantonese nor Mandarin is my first language, I've compiled a list of pronunciations (aka lingo) of the most popular dim sum delights. For your benefit as well as mine.

Having dim sum is a true Chinese experience that everyone should try. It gives you a glimpse of what Chinese truly enjoy and value- good food, family and tradition.

(English- Cantonese- Mandarin)

Steamed Dim Sum

BBQ Pork Bun- Char Siu Bao- Cha Shao Bao

Chinese Chive Dumpling- Gow Choy Gau- Jia Chai Jiao

Chiu Chow Dumpling- Ciu Chow Fun Guok- Chao Zhou Fen Jiao

Pork Dumpling- Siu Mai- Shao Mai

Pork Rib with Salted Black Beans- Jing Pie Gwut- Zhen Pai Guo

Rice Lotus Leaf- Naw Mai Gai- Nao Mi Ji

Rice Noodle Roll (Shrimp, BBQ Pork)- Churn Fun- Zhen Chung Fun

Shrimp Dumpling- Ha Gau- Xia Jiao

Deep-Fried Dim Sum

Crispy Fried Squid- Yau Yu Sou

Flaky Taro Dumpling- Woo Gok- Yu Jiao

Glutinous Rice Dumpling- Hom Soi Gok- Xian Sui Jiao

Shrimp Toast- Ha Daw See- Ciang Su Xia Daw See

Spring Roll- Chun Guen- Chun Juan

Sweet Dim Sum

Black Sesame Seed Roll- Gee Mar Guen- Zhi Ma Juan

Egg Custard Tart- Don Tot- Dan Tak

Sesame Seed Ball- Jun Dui- Jian Dui

Steamed Sponge Cake- Ma Lai Gough- Xhen Song Guao

Silky Tofu with Syrup- Dou Fu Fa

Water Chestnut Cake- Ma Tai Gough- Ma Tii Guao


Braised Chicken Feet- Fung Zao

Congee/ Rice Porridge- Juk- Zhou

Stir Fried Chinese Broccoli- Kai Lan

Turnip Cake- Lok Bak Go

Tea- Cha

Jasmine tea- Heung peen- Mo li hua cha

Oolong tea- Wu lung cha

Chrysanthemum tea- Kok fa cha

Green tea

Pu-erh tea

Other scented flower teas

Date: 11/23/2010