Do you like Chinese food? We do! Whether it’s sesame chicken, pork fried rice or delicious egg rolls, there’s nothing quite like the cuisine of China to get our taste buds singing.

Chinese food doesn’t always come in those unique cardboard takeout containers, though. If you’ve ever tried dim sum, you know what we’re talking about.

Dim sum is a special style of Chinese food. It’s created as small, individual — sometimes even bite-sized — portions of various dishes served on small plates or steamer baskets. Restaurants that specialize in dim sum often serve ready-to-eat dishes from carts that travel around the restaurant, so people can choose their dishes as they sit at their tables.

What do you drink with dim sum? Tea, of course! Dim sum is actually linked with the historic Chinese tradition of yum cha, which means “tea tasting.”

Hundreds of years ago, teahouses were built along the ancient Silk Road. Weary travelers would stop to rest and enjoy a refreshing cup of tea. It was only a matter of time until snacks were made part of the tradition.

What started out as a snack, though, has become a central part of Chinese food culture, especially in Hong Kong. In many areas, restaurants begin serving dim sum early in the morning. Many older Chinese people go to eat dim sum as soon as they’re finished with their morning exercises.

So what exactly does dim sum consist of? A dim sum restaurant might serve several dozen different dishes. Here are some of the most popular:

  • Dumplings: See-through rice-flour or wheat-starch skins are filled with various ingredients, such as beef, pork, chicken, shrimp or vegetables.
  • Buns: Called bau, these fluffy buns are made from wheat flour and then filled with meats, vegetables or bean pastes before being steamed or baked.
  • Rice Noodle Rolls: Wide rice noodles are steamed, rolled, fried and then sprinkled with sesame seeds. They can be eaten plain or filled with meats and vegetables.
  • Congee: This thick, sticky rice is served as porridge with various savory ingredients.
  • Meats: Dim sum meats might include spare ribs, steamed meatballs or phoenix claws, which are chicken feet that have been deep fried, boiled and marinated in a black bean sauce.

60 Join the Discussion

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    • Hello, Chip, thanks for joining the Wonder fun today! We are learning about a type of food called dim sum– we bet you could learn something new about this delicious meal! Take a look at the Wonder of the Day® under the “did you know” section, there’s even a video to show you what dim sum looks like! :) We bet you’ll have a WONDERful time learning about this dish! :)

    • Great suggestion, Jacob! Dim sum would be great with soy sauce– thanks for sharing! We are happy that you’re joining us as we Wonder about a cool, delicious dish! :)

    • Great WONDERing, students in Mrs. Foster’s class! The chefs in the video have been training for many hours each day, working to create perfect dumplings in a short amount of time! It’s pretty impressive to see how quickly these talented chefs can create food art! Thanks for WONDERing with us today! :)

  1. Dear Wonderopolis,

    The chinese food we watched looked interesting. Some of the different dishes looked weird. I only have a few brave students who have ever tried chinese food, but we may have a special taste testing lesson in the near future.
    We think tomorrow’s wonder will be about a drum!

    • Hey there, Wonder Friends in Ms. Moreland’s class! :) We are glad to be learning about dim sum with you today– it’s cool to experience different cultures and the new and exciting dishes, too! We hope you are able to taste Chinese food as a class– that sounds like a SUPER lesson!

      Thanks for guessing what our rhythmic Wonder could be tomorrow! :)

    • Hi there, Anthony, we are so glad you commented today! We think it’s SUPER cool that you are going to try dim sum, or another type of Chinese food– you’ll never know if you don’t give it a try! We are proud of your adventurous eating, Wonder Friend! :)

    • COOL, Ava, we are glad you like the look of today’s Wonder! We hope you are able to try dim sum soon, if you haven’t already! :)

    • Hey there DaVe, we appreciate your comment today! We like sharing our opinions, and we’re sorry you didn’t enjoy dim sum when you last tried it! Perhaps you will have another chance to give it another shot– but keep up the great WONDERing, DaVe! :)

    • We agree, Trevor! The pictures and video about dim sum are making us hungry here at Wonderopolis! We hope you have a SUPER day, Wonder Friend! :)

  2. I’m not sure whether it will taste good, but I’d love to try it. I do like Chinese food, especially the noodles and vegetables.
    Your website is awesome!!! Can’t wait to see what tomorrow’s wonder is. :)

    • Good for you, Amelie, we like your sense of adventure! We think it’s important to give different or new foods a try before deciding if our taste buds enjoy them! We appreciate your WONDERful comment and are so glad to hear you are enjoying Wonderopolis as much as we are! We look forward to WONDERing with you again, Wonder Friend! :)

  3. I think that I have tried dim sum before, I have a Chinese friend who once let me try them, they were the dumpling type. My favorite kind of dumpling are the ones with beef in them.

    From Mrs. Statnyk’s 4-5 class

    • Hi there Camie, how cool that you have tried dim sum for yourself– way to go! :) We love trying new types of food, especially with friends who can recommend different things– it’s a great way to experience different cultural meals! Thanks for sharing your comment with us today, Wonder Friend! :)

    • Aw, too bad, Ava! We Wonder if you can give dim sum another try in the future– we think it’s great to try new and different foods! Who knows if you’ll like it! Have a SUPER day! :)

    • Hi there Josh, thanks for sharing your comment today! We are sorry to hear that the video keeps freezing– we hope you can watch it in full when you have a better internet connection! :)

    • Thanks for your COOL comment, Madhatter55! We bet you could try dim sum with the help of a family member! Or maybe you can taste it by heading to a Chinese restaurant! :)

  4. I’ve never tried dim sum but I have it in mind! It looks good. But if I do ever have any of dim sum I wouldn’t have it in a long time. I wonder why they call it dim sum? I like Chinese food especially the noodles and the chicken!

    • Hey there Omi! We are glad you’re here, WONDERing with us as we learn about dim sum! You may have seen it on the menu when you had your noodles and chicken, or perhaps you can continue to Wonder about it with some more research! You’re doing a great job! :)

  5. Dear Wonderopolis,
    This wonder I would have never guessed that it was Dim Sum. It is amazing how many Ping Pong makes a day. I thought it was cool how they showed you how to make Dim sum. Is it Chinese or Japanese food? All I know that it looks really cool!

    I think tomorrow’s wonder will be about that tree book that goes “boom boom,” also it could be a silly dance. That’s all i can think of. Thanks for reading.
    Natalie

    • Hi there Natalie, we are so happy that we both learned something new about this cool Chinese cuisine! It must take a lot of practice for Ping Pong to make all that food each and every day! We can’t wait to Wonder with you again, Wonder Friend! :)

    • SUPER question, BV School! We are glad that you’re WONDERing about the speed of food production today! We bet it took a great deal of practice, energy and patience to make the dough and dumplings as quickly as they do! It’s quite amazing, just like you! :)

    • We hope you get to try dim sum soon, Nicolina! It will be a cool, new food to add to your tasting adventures! Great guess for tomorrow… we can’t wait to listen to the beat with you, Wonder Friend! :)

  6. dear wonderopolis

    Yummy!!! I was wondering who comes up with the wonders and if you can make a wonder about pie. I love wonderopolis!

    BBBBBBBBBBBBBBBYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

    • Thanks for sharing your comment, Ms. Bayko’s class! Our Wonder Friends were quite sleepy this morning… we were running late and didn’t post our new Wonder as early as we would have liked! But we’re all wide awake now! Thanks for asking! :)

  7. I learned so many cool things with you today. That Chinese food created small portions, also people eat this food write after exercising and the tea houses were bulit on ancent roads.

    • Thanks for sharing, Jules! We love hearing that you are WONDERing about new and exciting things, like the origin of tea houses and where small portions of food came from! :)

    • Very cool, Josh, we are glad that you’ve tried AND loved dim sum! We bet you liked learning something new about one of your favorite dishes! Have a SUPER day! :)

    • YUM YUM, Jack, we love dim sum here at Wonderopolis! However, all our taste buds are different– but we hope you can try dim sum for yourself soon! We hope you have a WONDERfully delicious day! :)

    • How cool that you have enjoyed dim sum since you were young, Payton! We think it’s SUPER cool! Thanks for sharing your love for dim sum with all of us at Wonderopolis! We’re glad you’re here! :)

    • YUM, we agree, Tara! We’re getting hungry right now… just from thinking about dim sum! We hope you have a SUPER day! :)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • Have you ever tried dim sum?
  • What are some traditional dim sum dishes?
  • Can you make your own dim sum?

Wonder Gallery

shutterstock_10469815Vimeo Video

Try It Out

Hungry yet? We are! All this talk about dim sum has made us hungry for some!

Check out the dim sum recipes below and choose one or two to try at home. You’ll want to grab a friend or family member to help you. A trip to the grocery store may be necessary, so check the ingredients and your kitchen cabinets before you get started.

When you’re finished, take a picture of your dim sum creation. Post it to Facebook for all your Wonder Friends to see. We can’t wait to see what you make!

Still Wondering

An army of buried warriors, lion dances, dancing shadows and a tornado of fire…experience the vibrant diversity of the arts across China through ArtsEdge’s China lesson.

Wonder What’s Next?

Tomorrow’s rhythmic Wonder of the Day may have you saying, “Boom ba doom boom!”

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