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China Travel Guide

Dim Sum

Although Dim sum are eaten throughout China and also in Hong Kong and Taiwan, the name is of Cantonese origin. The literal translation is dot heart but it’s also commonly translated as touch the heart or snack and is a light meal or brunch, which was traditionally eaten any time between morning to mid afternoon.

It is believed to have originated hundreds of years ago when teahouses were erected along the roadside to accommodate merchants or travellers taking the ancient Silk Road who needed to stop for a rest. Prior to this time, people would never combine food with tea as they believed it wasn’t healthy however, they soon discovered that tea acted as an aid to digestion and so these teahouses began the tradition of serving tea with morsels of food to weary travellers and so the tradition of Dim Sum was born.

They are generally small in size and are often steamed or fried. Items such as buns and dumplings made of pork, beef, prawns, chicken and vegetables are commonly included on the Dim sum menu. Several different Dim Sum are usually served at the same time so each diner can have a selection.

Today this well loved traditional food has joined the “fast food” brigade – not surprisingly as to make a selection of Dim Sum can be a time consuming matter. They are often sold from street stalls although shops also sell microwaveable frozen Dim Sum.

In the west they are often served as starters or hors d'oeuvres and are a great theme for a party..

Below are just a few Dim Sum recipes for you to try.


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