So one day, I asked my daughter what she would do if she won one million pounds (she’s 10 years old by the way). Her answer … “I’m going to go dim sum every day”. And she was not joking! It’s her most favourite … absolute favourite … like nothing else matters in the world favourite food!
I wouldn’t say I go there on a regular basis, but I do try and go as often as I can to satisfy my daughter’s cravings. The main one I go to is Saikei in Greenwich. It used to be called Peninsula before it changed management.
But what is dim sum you ask? Well to literally translate, it means “touch the heart”. We would say: “do you want to go dim sum?” or we could say “do you want to go ‘yum cha'”?
“Yum cha” literally means “drink tea”. Both can be used interchangeably.
The term “dim sum” refers to the many bites sized dishes eaten over lunch. The dishes are usually steamed, fried or baked and come in portions of three or four.
There is usually a long wait to get a table for lunchtime dim sum on the weekends. It’s a “take a ticket and wait” kind of scenario. But they are pretty organised and we do wait up to 45 minutes sometimes. It is worth the wait though.
Here is a low down of some of our favourite dishes we order …
We always start off with a light tea to cleanse our palate. Our favourite is “heung peen” which is a light Jasmine tea. It’s not so heavy on the throat like some Chinese teas are.
My daughter’s favourite dish is “ham sui gok” which is a minced pork meat croquette. The pastry is slightly sweet and crispy, with a glutinous sticky texture.
My son prefers these which are taro croquettes (“wu gok”). Taro is a type of yam. The filling is again made of pork, but the pastry is made from taro root. Very delicate, crispy and flaky.
Synonymous with dim sum is this famous little dumpling. The well known “har gow”. These prawns are expertly covered in a translucent skin with shell like pleats. They are steamed to perfection and taste delicious with a little dip of soy sauce.
These steamed rolls are a favourite with my family. The one on the left is prawn and the one on the right is beef filled. The roll is made from steamed rice flour. They are silky smooth and delicately made.
Next we have these crispy prawn dumplings. They are deep fried so have a lovely crispy shell. The prawn filling is mixed with spring onions and has a light delicate flavour.
One of my favourites are these pork ribs. Steamed with fermented black beans and a hint of chilli. There are not exactly tender so you do have to get your teeth stuck in there to get the meat off the bone. But they have a lovey flavour and very addictive.
Ok, so bare with me on this one. These are chicken feet in black bean sauce. Yes you heard right … chicken feet (also known as chicken claws). Now, chicken feet are not known to have meat. We focus on the skin and sinew. The skin falls of the bone and the sauce just drips down your chin as you try and fight to get the sinew away from the bone. (Am I being to graphic here?). They are really nice to eat and is a staple of any dim dum lunch.
There are various different type of chicken feet dishes.
Another one here …
These chicken feet are Thai style which is marinated with chilli and a hint of lemon. These are great because they are de-boned already. You don’t have to worry about getting those teeth around the bones and sinew.
Chicken feet are a staple in our cuisine. I know alot of people’s first impressions of it is like “WHOA! Why would you eat that?”. But if you think about it, every country has their own weird and wonderful foods. It’s what makes the world a wonderful place to live. Be open minded about it.
My husband’s favourite dim sum dish are these Shanghai steamed buns. Also known as “Xiaolong bao”. These are pork buns but with a special soupy filling. When you bite in to these, your mouth gets filled with a wonderful warm broth.
This final dish is not typical of dim sum. We were just hungry that day and ordered the “three meat rice noodle” dish. Steamed rice noodles topped with roast duck, roast pork slices and char sui pork slices and some steamed greens.
You know, looking back at all this food is making me hungry … I see a packet of crisps calling my name.
If you haven’t tried dim sum, I hope you get to try it. Honestly, it’s unique, really tasty and such an awesome dining experience. Go for it and be daring!
What is you favourite dim sum dish? Or what is your favourite type of food? Leave a comment, I would love to hear from you.
Until next time …
~ The Cake Lady xx