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.
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.
- 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.