Dim Sum for Dummies

Staff Writer

Photo courtesy of Flickr - Alpha

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia – Alpha

1. Barbecue Pork Buns (Cha Shao Bao) Think of it like this: it’s meat from sweet and sticky barbecue ribs finely diced and stuffed in an airy and soft steamed bun. It’s the perfect combination of savory and sweet. Strategy: Look out for the cart with steamed buns of all sorts, specifically the bamboo basket with 3-4 puffy, slightly split white buns.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia - young

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia – young

2. Shu Mai Dumplings (Shao Mai) These dumplings are made with fresh ground pork topped with salty fish roe and partly wrapped in a yellow dumpling skin. The steaming process ensures that the meat stays juicy and maintains its plump texture. Strategy: Look for the cart with dumplings. Shu mai look like angular pork meatballs with a yellow wrapper and orange “sprinkles.” 3-4 dumplings per bamboo basket.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia - Taman Renyah

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia – Taman Renyah

3. Chrysanthemum Tea (Ju Hua Cha) This is not your average tea; chrysanthemum tea is made with chrysanthemum flower petals, giving the tea a floral, fragrant taste. Strategy: Order this before your food comes. Try it plain or with sugar cubes.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia - zezebono

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia – zezebono

4. Turnip Cake (Luo Bu Gao) “Cake” may be misleading, as this is a savory side dish. Turnip is pureed and diced into a fine paste, formed into bar shapes, and pan-fried. The crisp outside contrasts nicely with the soft interior. Strategy: Look for a cart with miscellaneous side dishes on actual plates, not bamboo baskets. It’s usually accompanied by stir-fried Chinese broccoli or rice omelets.

Photo courtesy of Flavor Explosions

Photo courtesy of Flavor Explosions

5. Fried Sesame Balls with Red Bean Paste (Zha Zhi Ma Qiu) Sweetened red bean puree is encased in a glutinous rice layer, rolled in sesame seeds and fried. This delightful dessert is crispy and hot on the outside and sweet and smooth on the inside. Strategy: Look for the dessert cart filled with golden brown goodies such as egg custard tarts and coconut buns. 3 sesame balls per plate.

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