Dim Sum are not particularly popular over here in the UK yet. I mean, it took us more than 40 years to catch onto sushi and I still can’t imagine anyone over the age of 70 relishing a delicious Salmon Skin Roll. My own grandfathers’ face, contorted into a mask of disgust at the thought of cold rice AND raw fish, will be forever etched into my mind when I first introduced him to the joys of supermarket sushi (and, as our dear old Coney would say, leave ‘em be).
Dim Sum is another matter altogether though. There is no searingly hot chilli to contend with, no raw fish to dice with and the chopsticks are entirely optional. Add all these winning factors to the irrefutable fact that they taste mighty fine and you’re onto a winner.
Or so you would think.
A local Dim Sum restaurant has opened up near us. Keen to visit, we checked out their website, only to be greeted with incredibly expensive delicacies that will surely mean that the death knell of this local restaurant is looming with great rapidity.
Why so expensive though? Sure, Dim Sum are fiddly, they are delicate and dainty. But the ingredients are dirt cheap. Pork Mince? Prawns, and seasonings. We are not talking about lobster and caviar folks, just honest, decent ingredients served in whimsical (to a Brit) steamers. Alas, in this instance, the name Dim Sum (roughly translated: Order to your Hearts’ Content) is – as usual - betrayed by British commercialism and greed.
But, there is hope for those of us who are not fortunate to live near a Dim Sum restaurant that offers great value as well as great food: make your own!
Don’t be shocked, it’s easy to wrap things in, er, wrappers. You’ve made egg rolls, right? Used Filo pastry? Wrapped a Band-Aid around your bleeding finger, using your non-dominant hand? Dim Sum are, therefore, a piece of metaphorical cake.
And, if you’re scared of wrappers, then take heart. Not all Dim Sum is fiddly. Chicken Feet, Spare Ribs, Congee Rice all take the form of Dim Sum. And for the sweet-toothed among you, there are the delicious dumplings, tarts and puddings, made with Red Bean Paste, Mango, Tapioca and, curiously, very little chocolate at all.
If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you can organise a Dim Sum feast for friends and get most of the prep work completed the day before.
As for us, sitting here all smug proselytising about the joys of Dim Sum, we can confirm that yes, we have made some and yes, they were entirely successful, if not aesthetically pleasing (although for a first attempt, still quite cute really): Savoury Dumplins’, known in China as Jiaozi and in Japan as Gyoza.
The dumplings, little savoury morsels of ground pork, prawn, water chestnuts, cabbage, ginger etc, encased in Wonton Wrappers can be poached, steamed or shallow fried (Pot Stickers), served with a dipping sauce or dropped into broth. I favour the Pot Sticker method. It gives a delicious triple texture: the tender upper half of the dumpling which is steamed, the bronzed derriere and the innards, both soft and crisp, depending on the filling. Pot Stickers are traditionally served at special occasions and when turned out, they certainly look stunning when turned out onto a serving platter.
We served our Pot Stickers with some takeaway noodles and rice, but they make a filling treat by themselves.
To make your own Dim Sum Delight, here's how:
To make the dough, stir together the flour and water in a bowl until roughly combined. Turn out onto a lightly floured board and kneed until a smooth dough is formed. Add a little more flour if the dough is too sticky.