Take Your Taste Buds Across the World: An Introduction to the Different Types of Chinese Dim Sum

Chinese cuisine dates back 4 millennia, with archaeologists discovering a fossilized noodle near the Yellow River around that time. Dim Sum appeared on the scene much later, around 2,500 years back.

That’s been plenty of time for the Chinese to refine and perfect these popular eats. As a result, there are over 1,000 different types of Chinese dim sum available today.  

So, you’ll find no shortage of tasty Chinese dim sum you can try during a trip to this country, from your local Eastern restaurant, or even from an online store.

Find out everything you ever wanted to know about these delicious bites here.

What Is Dim Sum?

The term, dim sum, usually refers to a host of Chinese dumplings traditionally served for brunch and always accompanied by tea. These dishes incorporate both sweet and savory bites and feature a full range of ingredients, cooking styles, textures, and flavors.

While we often think only of dim sum in terms of dumplings, almost any kind of food can fall into this category. Let’s look at some of the more common types of Chinese dim sum.

Xiao Long Bao

These are by far the best-known type of dim sum around. After all, what are dumplings without pork, right?

These dumplings overflow with succulent pork and a delicious stock bursting with flavor. Eat them with caution though, the hot stock bursts out of its shell the minute you bite into your xiao long bao.

The best way to eat them is by picking them up from the top and placing them on your spoon. Then, bite into the side (carefully) and slurp out all the juice. Once you’ve drained it all out, you can tuck into the rest of the dim sum to enjoy the full flavor experience.  

Har Gao

Another one of the most popular types of dim sum, you’ll find these bites in every authentic Chinese restaurant.

They’re classic dumplings consisting of a delicate rice flour wrapper packed with shrimp, pork fat, and bamboo shoots. The result is a juicy, springy dumpling with a slightly sticky outside.

You can enjoy them with chili sauce or plain.  

Siu Mai

Another pork-based classic, siu mai dumplings are central to any great dim sum feast. The main ingredients are minced pork, water chestnut, bamboo shoots, and a garnish of crab roe. You can also switch the crab roe for caviar if you like.

These super juicy dumplings provide a satisfying liquid pop in your mouth and they’re seriously addictive. 

Cheong Fun

Also known as rice noodle rolls, these start like flat crépes made out of rice flour. The chef splashes rice flour water onto a hot metal tray and then steams it while adding your ingredients on top. 

Some of the things you can add include BBQ pork, shrimp, bean sprouts, and bean curd skin. To eat it, you simply lather on the soy sauce and pull it apart with your chopsticks. 

No Mai Gai

Seriously filling and infinitely satisfying, no mai gai contains steamed sticky rice with pork, chicken, mushrooms, and seasoning. The whole lot’s wrapped in lotus leaves.

You’ll find this sticky, heavy dish at most Chinese restaurants, and it’s the perfect pick-me-up for hungry diners. 

Fung Jeow

This isn’t a dish for fussy eaters or squeamish diners. The main ingredient consists of chicken’s feet.

The chef deep- or stir-fries the feet, then marinates them and steams them until done. They’re delicious, like chicken skin, especially when you dip them in oyster or black bean sauce. 

Hai Kim

If chicken feet put you off, why not try some crab claws instead? All the shell’s removed apart from the pincer part and then they’re wrapped in shrimp or crab meat and coated with bread crumbs or sliced almonds.

Also known as deep-fried crab lollipops hai kim is a must-try delicacy, especially when dipped in chili sauce. 

Wodan Niuroufan 

If you travel to southern China, you’ll find this dim sum up for grabs everywhere. It’s served in a metal bowl and contains minced beef packed with seasoning and cilantro.

The chef steams this dish over a bed of rice and then adds a raw egg. Another variety, cooked in a clay pot over a high flame, goes by the name bao zaifan.

Both are equally delicious and worth trying if you feel like something a little different from dumplings.

Sin Juk Gyun 

You’ll see tofu in a whole new light when you try these dim sum rolls.

They contain tofu skin wrapped around succulent pork or chicken, with bamboo shoots, mushrooms, taro, and radish. You can also ask for shrimp if preferred.

Dip them in oyster sauce and enjoy every bite.

Cha Siu Bao

Legend has it that Zhuge Liang, a brilliant military strategist during the Three Kingdoms period, invented baozi as an offering to the Gods in exchange for his soldier’s lives.

Today, you find these heavenly sweet buns in every worth dim sum restaurant in Guangdong province. They’re packed with BBQ pork and should always have a fluffy, sticky texture and a sweet taste. 

Hoeng Ma Zin Deoi Zai

This long name signifies one of the simplest and most satisfying dim sum desserts around. It’s a simple concoction of deep-fried sticky rice balls filled with sweet black sesame.

Grab a pile of napkins and tuck into their golden brown gooey sweetness and toasted white sesame flavor. 

Discover the Tastes of Distant Shores

Like Chinese dim sum, foreign dishes can transport you to far-off lands with their exotic spices and ingredients. Why settle for the foods you always eat, when there’s a world of flavors to try?

Do you have an adventurous appetite? Explore our blog for more ideas to tempt your tastebuds and broaden your food horizons.