My colleagues from work organised a dim sum lunch – this is a very typical Cantonese meal. It is a dish that involves small individual portions of food, usually served in a small steamer basket or on a small plate. Going for dim sum is usually known in Cantonese as going to “drink tea” (yum cha). While dim sum was originally not a main meal, only a snack, it is now a staple of Chinese dining culture and there are many places in Hong Kong to eat dim sum.
The serving sizes are usually small and normally served as three or four pieces in one dish. It is customary to order family style, sharing dishes among all members of the dining party. Because of the small portions, people can try a wide variety of food.
What types of foods are served at a typical dim sum lunch? Traditional dim sum includes various types of steamed buns. We had Char Siu Bao, a steamed yeast dumpling filled with roast pork. There is also the baked option, which is even sweeter!
My favourites are Xiao long bao, the Shanghainese dumplings, which are filled with meat and rich broth inside.
We also had dumplings made of translucent rice flour with shrimp filling. I love Har Gau! The best ones are filled with bamboo shots too!
We also tried Siu Mai, which are small steamed dumplings with pork inside a wheat flour wrapper, topped off with crab roe and mushroom.
There were also some steamed meatballs – finely-ground beef is shaped into balls and then steamed with preserved orange peel and served on top of a thin bean-curd skin.
As well as turnip cake: cakes are made from mashed daikon radish mixed with bits of dried shrimp and pork sausage that are steamed and then cut into slices and pan-fried.
What my colleagues also ordered Chicken feet – also called phoenix talons. I’ve had them before (at Royal China in London) so I was not afraid of trying them, but I don’t like them very much as there is hardly any meat on them. They are very chewy and full of collagen – which is meant to be very good for you!
We finished the meal with sweet cream buns – these are filled with think condense milk, almost as thick as custard. Very nice!