Sharing small plates of food is without a doubt my favourite way to eat. A stroll into London’s Chinatown for an afternoon grazing on basket upon basket of steamed dumplings bursting with delightful fillings washed down with tiny cups of Jasmine tea is how I wish every weekend could start. I’m a sucker for anything miniature!
Dim sum is a style of Cantonese cuisine prepared in bite-sized portions and traditionally served in small steamer baskets or on small plates. Some restaurants still serve dim sum in old school fashion, carting around plates of freshly steamed dim sum on a trolley. Eating dim sum at a restaurant is usually known in Cantonese as going to “drink tea” (yum cha), as dim sum is typically served with tea.
Armed with a fierce determination to make at least one authentic looking dumpling from scratch (my younger self had failed hopelessly helping my mum in the kitchen on countless occasions) and a big appetite, we arrived at our destination for the evening class.
We sat down to a pot of jasmine tea and most importantly – a lesson in dim sum etiquette – the do’s and don’ts, what to order and the order to order it in. A very enlightening start. I’ll never point my chopsticks at my food companion ever again!
We then discussed the different ingredients and fillings, equipment needed, and also learned how to pronounce various dim sum the proper way and order from restaurants in Cantonese. No more mime and finger pointing at the menu for me!
It was now time for us to get our hands dirty. Will, who led the class walked us through step by step instructions from making and rolling the dough, preparing and mixing the fillings, forming the dumplings and cooking them. He was very patient with us, giving us lots of tips upon seeing our initial efforts, namely sad looking dumplings!
We learned how to make three types of dim sum: Sui Mai (open top steamed pork dumpling), Har Gow (prawn dumpling) and Chiu Chow steamed dumplings (typically filled with chopped peanuts, ground pork, dried shrimp, dried radish and shiitake mushrooms). Here are some captures from the class.
The evening ended on a high – admiring and then devouring our efforts with the class.
Inspired by the class, I’ll be attempting to create my own dim sum, on the blog soon!