In some dim sum parlors in Hong Kong, where ingredients
are prime and innovation is encouraged, the dim sum are
extraordinarily diverse. The chef might experiment with
the traditional recipe, creating a new variation on an old theme,
or even a completely new type. There are, however, a number of
standard classics, and the following glossary covers the most traditional
forms which will be found in all fine dim sum restaurants – in any country.
CHA SHAO BAO (Barbecued Pork Buns) airy, globular buns with a
yeast dough skin stuffed with slices of barbecued pork coated in oyster sauce.
CHANG FEN ( Stuffed Sweet Rice Rolls) squat steamed rolls made with
a slippery, white sweet-rice skin and stuffed with a shrimp, beef, or scallop filling.
CHUN JUAN ( Spring Rolls) slender, deep-fried rolls stuffed with pork,
bamboo shoots, and shrimp and wrapped in thin skins made of flour and water.
DAN TA (Custard Tarts) flaky tarts with a rich and eggy custard center.
DOU SHI PAI GU (Steamed Spareribs in Black Bean Sauce) bite-sized
spareribs coated with a fermented black bean sauce.
LO PO GAO ( Fried Turnip Cake) slices of a steamed pudding-like cake
made with shredded daikon radish, chopped Chinese sausage, and rice powder
that are pan-fried until golden brown and crisp.
LUO MI JI (Stuffed Lotus Leaves) steamed packages of lotus leaves stuffed
with glutinous rice, chicken, diced shrimp, and black mushrooms.
(The lotus leaf merely provides flavor and is not eaten.)
SHAO MAI (Steamed Pork Dumplings) open-faced dumplings with a thin
flour and water skin, stuffed with ground pork and garnished with a variety of
ingredients, including peas, chopped ham, and crab roe.
XIA JAO (Steamed Shrimp Dumplings or HAR GAO) delicate dumplings with
translucent wheat-starch skins stuffed with chopped shrimp and water chestnuts.
Soy sauce and mustard are often mixed and used as a dipping sauce.
XING REN DOUFU (Almond Bean Curd) a refreshing almond-flavored jelly
usually cut into squares or diamond shapes and mixed with fresh or canned fruit salad.
JIAO YU (Stuffed Taro Balls) deep-fried balls made with a mashed,
steamed taro skin and a pork, shrimp, and black mushroom filling.
GUO TIEH (Pan-Fried Dumplings) crusty pan-seared dumplings stuffed with ground pork and cabbage