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Have You Tasted All of These Chinese Dim Sum? Learn 7 Different Kinds Now!

Jan. 25, 2019

HSK 3 quiz

Key Words: (Preview)

早点 (Zǎodiǎn) Breakfast

点心 (Diǎnxīn) Dim Sum; Dessert; Light Refreshments; Pastries

What is Dim Sum?

So what is “点心 (diǎnxīn) Dim Sum?” This style of Chinese food is well-known throughout all of China and is prepared in small bite-sized portions, usually served with tea and altogether forms a full breakfast or brunch. Dim sum literally translated means “to touch the heart” and there are all kinds of Dim Sum such as savory, steamed and fried “包子 (bāozi) buns,” “饺子 (jiǎozi) dumplings” and “卷 (juǎn) rolls.”

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Though Dim Sum can be found in many forms (even up to 100 different kinds!) and can be served in all regions of China, the cuisine is most closely associated with the “茶馆文化 (cháguǎn wénhuà) teahouse culture” in Hong Kong and Guangdong Province.

Watch a Video on It:

Cultural Background:

Cantonese Morning Tea is an indispensable part of Cantonese’s life. Cantonese often greet each other in the morning, by saying something like:

Chī zǎochá le ma? Hái méiyǒu de huà, yìqǐ qù ba!
Have you had Morning Tea yet? If not, let’s go together!

“饮早茶 (Yǐn zǎochá) Drinking Morning Tea,” that is to enjoy your Dim Sum and tea, which has become a very unique custom.

The Origin:

“Cantonese Morning Tea” originated in tea houses in the Qing Dynasty, where only a table, a few chairs, some tea, and simple cakes were provided, and the sign on the door said “茶馆 (cháguǎn) tea house.” All guests were able to sit down, rest, chat and eat while sipping tea. These kinds of tea houses were found along every street and on every corner at that time. That was when the seeds for today’s modern Dim Sum tradition were planted.

Key Words:

饮茶 (Yǐn chá) Yum Cha; to Drink Tea

早茶 (Zǎochá) Cantonese Morning Tea

广式点心 (Guǎng shì diǎnxīn) Cantonese Style Dim Sum


    Xiā jiǎo shì guǎng dōng rén zuì xǐ’ài de diǎnxīn zhī yī.
1. 虾饺是广东人最喜爱的点心之一。
    The Shrimp Dumpling is one of Cantonese ’s favorite Dim Sum.

    “Yǐn zǎochá” shì guǎng dōng de dútè fēngsú.
2. “饮早茶”是广东的独特风俗。
    “Drinking Morning Tea” is a unique custom in Guangdong.

Let’s Take a Look at the Most Classic Types of Cantonese Style Dim Sum

(1) 叉烧包 (Chāshāo bāo) Barbecued Pork Bun

HSK 3 quiz
The picture source:

This style of Dim Sum is a “包 (bāo)” or bun which is filled with what is called cha shao pork and is either steamed or baked. The steamed buns are white on the exterior and the baked buns are browned or glazed.

(2) 虾饺 (Xiā jiǎo) Shrimp Dumpling

HSK 3 quiz

This Shrimp Dumpling is known as Har Gow and is a dumpling that originated on the outskirts of Guangzhou. The dumplings have a pleated shape on top and are transparent and very smooth on the outside. These dumplings take skill to prepare, so are used to judge a Dim Sum chef’s skill.

(3) 烧卖 (Shāo mài) Shaomai

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The picture source:

This type of pork and mushroom dumpling originated in Beijing but extends to many provinces all over China. The Shaomai dumpling is usually pungently seasoned with anything from pork, shrimp, minced sheep meat, beef or mutton forming most of the filling.

The vegetables added are usually onion, green onion, carrot, water chestnuts, and mushrooms, but varieties differ from province to province. Rice is also added and spices that resemble curry are a favorite for most regions with this type of pork and mushroom dumpling.

(4) 春卷 (Chūn juǎn) Spring Roll

HSK 3 quiz
The picture source:

One of the favorites in western countries is the Spring Roll, which is a savory roll, varying in size filled with cabbage and vegetables. There are also meat varieties where pork, in particular, is a popular meat additive.

There are fried and non-fried versions, hot and spicy as well as sweet and savory versions, and they extend all the way into Southeast Asia like Indonesia and the Philippines as a favorite savory snack or meal.

(5) 糯米鸡 (Nuò mǐ jī) Lotus Leaf Rice

HSK 3 quiz
The picture source:

“糯米鸡 (Nuò mǐ jī)” is usually larger than other Dim Sum and is filled with chicken, glutinous rice, Chinese mushrooms, sausage, scallions, and dried shrimp or salted egg. The filling is then wrapped in a dried lotus leaf and steamed. In North America, banana and grape leaves are substituted for lotus leaf.

(6) 皮蛋瘦肉粥 (Pídàn shòu ròu zhōu) Preserved Egg And Pork Porridge

HSK 3 quiz
The picture source:

This is a bowl of porridge made of rice, which has been boiled in a large amount of water for a long time until it softens significantly and becomes porridge or also called congee. This specific type of congee has a preserved egg and pork that is added to the congee. This preserved egg can also be called “Century Egg,” because of how long it was known to be preserved.

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(7) 萝卜糕 (Luóbo gāo) Radish/Turnip Cake

HSK 3 quiz
The picture source:

Unlike the western version “carrot cake, ” this cake is a pan-fried cake made from rice flour and shredded radish. It usually has a thin, crunchy outer layer from frying, but is soft on the inside.

Like the other types of Dim Sum, shrimp, mushrooms, and sausage can be added, but are minced and diced and added to the mixture rather than leaving it as a filling. This is a Dim Sum version usually associated with Chinese New Year because the word for radish is also “菜头 (càitóu)” which sounds like “好彩头 (hǎocǎitóu).”

So there you have it! Our 7 Cantonese Dim Sum picks. Do these descriptions leave your mouth watering? Which is your favorite? Where have you eaten Dim Sum before? We would love to hear about your experience with this Cantonese specialty. Seeing as there are so many different kinds, which would you prefer: Sweet or Savory? Let us know!

HSK 3 quiz

1. Which of the following does not belong to typical “点心 (Diǎnxīn)” in China?

A. 虾饺 (Xiā jiǎo)

B. 烤鸭 (Kǎoyā)

C. 小笼包 (Xiǎo lóng bāo)

See Answer Analysis

Read More Interesting Articles on Chinese Food:
A Special Chinese Food: Brain of Tofu?
Three of China’s Most Disgusting Foods
What’s Your Dish? Try the 10 Most Popular in China!

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General Chinese (Intermediate Level) 

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