Monday, February 16, 2009

Before I Hit The Twig: Have Dim sum for Breakfast!

The first item on the list of the completed tasks in the book "2001 Things to Do Before You Die" is to "Eat Dim sum for Breakfast".

I have completed this task in a number of times over the years mainly because there are many Chinese restaurants in the Philippines that start serving dim sum as early as five in the morning or sell dim sum as take-out at night and I saved it for breakfast the following morning. Also, my family has already learned how to prepare my favorite dim sum, so it is not unusual for me to eat dim sum for breakfast once in awhile. I was also privileged to stay at Chinese hotels during my travels in Hongkong, Macau, Beijing and Shanghai and the buffet breakfast menu contains various dimsum items.


Dim sum (literally meaning "touch the heart") is the name for a Chinese cuisine which involves a wide range of light dishes served alongside Chinese tea. It is usually served in the mornings until noon time at Chinese restaurants and at specialty dim sum eateries where typical dishes are available throughout the day. Dishes come in small portions and may include meat, seafood, and vegetables, as well as desserts and fruit. The items are usually served in a small steamer basket or on a small plate.

Dim sum can be cooked by steaming and frying, among other methods. 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.

The dimsum I have eaten for breakfast includes shrimp dumpling, congee, siomai, rice noodles, taro dumpling,

Shrimp Dumpling: A delicate steamed dumpling with whole or chopped-up shrimp filling and thin wheat starch skin. It contains peanuts, garlic, chives, pork, dried shrimp, Chinese mushrooms in a thick dumpling wrapper made from glutinous rice flour or Tang flour. It is usually served with a small dish of chili oil.

Shaomai (Siomai): Small steamed dumplings with pork inside a thin wheat flour wrapper. Usually topped off with crab roe and mushroom.

Rice noodle rolls: These are wide rice noodles that are steamed and then rolled. They are often filled with different types of meats or vegetables inside but can be served without any filling. Rice noodle rolls are fried after they are steamed and then sprinkled with sesame seeds. Popular fillings include beef, dough fritter, shrimp, and barbecued pork. Often topped with a sweetened soy sauce.

Phoenix talons: These are chicken feet, deep fried, boiled, marinated in a black bean sauce and then steamed. This results in a texture that is light and fluffy (due to the frying), while moist and tender.

Steamed meatball: Finely-ground pork is shaped into balls and then steamed with preserved orange peel and served on top of a thin bean-curd skin.

Lotus leaf rice: Glutinous rice is wrapped in a lotus leaf into a triangular or rectangular shape. It contains egg yolk, dried scallop, mushroom, water chestnut and meat (usually pork and chicken). These ingredients are steamed with the rice and although the leaf is not eaten, its flavour is infused during the steaming. Lo mai gai is a kind of rice dumpling.

Congee: Rice porridge served with different savory items. The porridge one will see most often is "Duck Egg and Pork Porridge"

Taro dumpling: This is made with mashed taro, stuffed with diced shiitake mushrooms, shrimp and pork, deep-fried in crispy batter.

Crispy fried squid: Similar to fried calamari, the battered squid is deep-fried and normally served with a sweet and sour dip. One may also get a variation of this dish prepared with a salt and pepper mix. In some dim sum restaurants, octopus is used instead of squid.

Spring roll: a roll consisting of various types of vegetables — such as sliced carrot, cabbage, mushroom and wood ear fungus — and sometimes meat are rolled inside a thin flour skin and deep fried.

Tofu skin roll: a roll made of Tofu skin

Taro cake: cakes made of taro.

Egg tart: composed of a base made from either a flaky puff pastry type dough or a type of non-flaky cookie dough with an egg custard filling, which is then baked. Some high class restaurants put bird's nest on top of the custard.

Mango pudding: A sweet, rich mango-flavoured pudding usually with large chunks of fresh mango; often served with a topping of evaporated milk.

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