Siew Mai – Dim Sum for beginners

with 12 Comments


Dim Sum is a favourite Cantonese “snack” of mine. They come in small portions like those Spanish tapas. You can never have enough of these Cantonese foodies as they come in small baskets of variety and in many flavours. There’s sweet, sour, or pastry, buns, dumplings or even chicken feet. Most of these dishes are steamed and must be eaten hot. Traditionally, you usually start off with something steamed like har kow, kau chi, siew mai or char siu bao, and then continue with steamed chicken feet, tripe’s with black bean garlic sauce, spare ribs, spring rolls and finish off with egg tarts, or pancake in lotus bean sauce.
These days, you eat them when you see them on the menu and find a restaurant that makes them fresh! I still remember those days when we would go to Neptune, in Singapore just to specially eat Dim Sum. When you enter the hall, you think you entered a different world. A night club in the night, a busy tea house / restaurant during the day. The restaurant gets really loud, you think you’re in the middle of the market. The waitresses would be busy pushing their little carts around filled with many warm goodies. All you would have to do is to call her, and she’ll come waggling to you. Then you’d ask her what she has to offer. After deciding what your stomach tells you to do, she’ll put just the whole bamboo basket on your table, which takes only at most 2-4 pieces of the food you chose. Of course, you make a few choices. Then after finishing your portion, you wait till the next waitress comes your way, bringing many other kinds of dim sum for you to choose. In that way, you always get them really fresh and warm, no chance for them to get cold. And no way to get bored. It’s a lot more fun if you’re going to eat them with a few more people than just the 2 of you. A 4-some would be almost perfect. And…the best would be to eat them in Asia, to really feel the traditional atmosphere of eating your dim sums 🙂 together with tea.

Well, there’re diverse restaurants here serving Dim Sum. But there also only a few who serves them fresh and tasty. I had been craving for them for quite a while already and just had to try make them myself. Remember I said that you eat usually just a small portion of maybe 2-3 pieces of that kind? Well, this recipe i made makes about 50….and errr.. i finished them up together with my hubby and crowned it to be my main course. And don’t make the same mistake i did. Finish making your wraps, then only start steaming. Otherwise you’ll be busy making, steaming and eating it all at the same time, and your kitchen will look like WorldWar2 . Well, there’s always a first time, but it was very worthwhile and tasty too.


Apart from living some of her dreams on a tight schedule, Chris blogs and designs. Originating from the land of the assam laksa, she is now home-based in southern Germany. Authentic asian cooking challenges her to bring fond foodie memories of home in her kitchen.

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12 Responses

  1. TSwain
    | Reply

    Hey very nice blog!!….I’m an instant fan, I have bookmarked you and I’ll be checking back on a regular….See ya

  2. moveablefeast
    | Reply

    Nice recipe. Do you have any Asian recipe books you’d recommend? I’m looking to buy a good Chinese (Sichuan) book and I’m thinking of going with a Fuchsia Dunlop book. What are you thoughts?


  3. Chris
    | Reply

    Hey Phil, the Fuchsia Dunlop book has gotten good recensions, so I’d say go for it. I cook pretty mixed between chinese, indonesian and thai. My fave books are “Südostasiatische Spezialitäten” from Rosalind Mowe (in german) and “Thai Street Food” from Vatch. Basically, I follow my taste buds and year long experiences. If you’re all up for Sichuan, don’t forget the “chicken with dried chillies” It’s a must 🙂 hmm, you just gave me an idea…

  4. jeena
    | Reply

    Hi there you have a great blog,lovely recipes. Feel free to visit my blog too 🙂 Click Here For Food Recipes

  5. Happy cook
    | Reply

    Love the dim sum. They are my favorite

  6. Rasa Malaysia
    | Reply

    These siu mai looks so delicious. I made some recently, but using chicken…if you are interested, you can check it out here.

  7. Deborah Dowd
    | Reply

    Delicious looking recipes! Since my family loves Asian food I know I will be back again and again!

  8. ana
    | Reply

    love this! i can not wait to try it. dim sum is one of the things I have really missed when i moved from the San Francisco bay..

  9. Confuse
    | Reply

    Can anybody help me how to make sure that my siew mai are fresh all day long when i serve to customers? At the moment, i know that my siew mai are not fresh when they are already in the steamer for several hours. How did other restaurants manage to make sure that their siew mai are not overcook? It tastes odd when they are overcooked, like too much water inside already from the steam.

  10. Chris
    | Reply

    @Confuse: Hi, DimSum should be steamed and eaten immediately. You could prepare the dumplings and cover them with a plastic foil and refrigerate a few hours before. Then steam just before serving.

  11. Ellie | Gourmand Recipes
    | Reply

    Love the look of your siu mai. It is my favorite dim sum dish.

    • Chris
      | Reply

      Thanks Ellie, with each try it gets better 😉

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