PLANET DIM SUM
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: "What is Dim Sum?"
A: Dim Sum, my "peng yau" (friend), means "a little bit of heart". Dim Sum is Cantonese cuisine that comes mainly in the form of steamed and fried dumplings containing a wide array of mouth-watering ("lau hau seui") fillings.
Many types of dim sum are made with cow's intestine and stomach, pig's blood, chicken feet, and other delicious internal organs, but to my knowledge, none are made with hearts--at least not in San Francisco.
You may get lucky in the back alleys of Canton, however, where they
say the locals will eat anything that has four legs or two arms, with the obvious
exceptions of tables and chairs.
CANTON ~ "City of the Five Rams"
Q: "That's really
disgusting. Why would I want to eat dim sum?"
A: You clearly are not Chinese, then. Dim sum is more than just another great culinary invention from the Cantonese.
Dim sum is also part of a cultural ritual that originated in Southern China's Guangdong Province.
Dim Sum has spanned many generations, international boundaries, time zones, Chinese dynasties, peasant and student uprisings, Mao, Deng & Jiang, and, well you get the point.
Jacky Chan ~ Leading the People's Republic of China into the 21st Century
Incidentally, dim sum also has a longer shelf life than any of Richard Gere's films--in particular, "Red Corner".
To "yum-cha" is to gather with family and friends on a Sunday morning at the local "cha lau", or tea house, to enjoy dim sum and tea, as well as to discuss the latest, most intimate details of each others lives and, more importantly, the latest scoop on the rapidly deteriorating marriage of that cousin whom no one likes. Good conversation is key to having a positive "yum cha" experience--with such engaging conversation, you are less likely to realize that you are actually enjoying that chicken feet sticking out of your mouth.
vegetarian. Can I eat dim sum?"
A: Unfortuanelty, the Chinese, especially the Cantonese, are not too sympathetic when it comes to you people. However, with the recent outbreak of the "chicken flu" in Hong Kong, and the subsequent "Chicken Holocaust", you just might end up having the last laugh.
Nevertheless, you will find comfort in knowing that there indeed is a special vegetarian dumpling for you, the "jaai gaau". "Jaai" is a Chinese dish made with over twenty different dried vegetables and black hair, or something that resembles hair quite closely--but don't worry about this, just keep the conversation going.
The "jaai gaau" is dim sum fit for a monk, as "jaai" is a very popular dish in Chinese monasteries.
"What's your favorite dim sum?"
A; That's a really good question, but very difficult to answer.
"Woh teep" (pot stickers) have always been a favorite of mine, but because I've been eating them since I was a "sai lou jai", or little boy, they don't seem as exotic as say "yu chi gaau" (shark's fin dumplings) and "ngauu pak yip" (cow intestine).
"Ha gaau" (shrimp dumplings) and "siu maai" (pork
dumplings) are standard dim sum fare and no "yum cha" experience is quite
complete without them. To top off your meal, you might wish to try the "daan
taat" (custard tart) or the "jeen deui" (lotus sesame balls), or as one of
my sisters affectionately calls them--"butt holes". Try not to use this
term too often with a restaurant's dim sum bearers--they might take offense from it and word will spread about your lack of sensitivity,
then finally you will be blacklisted from all the local tea houses like a sister from a
Q; "Where can I yum-cha?"
A; That is quite impressive--you are already learning Cantonese.
In the continental United States, San Francisco is, by far, the best city for dim sum. The city boasts the world's largest Chinatown, outside of China's towns themselves. Runners up to San Francisco's Chinatown might be Clement Street in the City's Richmond District, and in third position, Irving Street in the City's Sunset District.
Tea houses abound in the City by the Bay which, along with the capitalist American dream, attracts world-class dim sum masters and disgruntled political dissidents from Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland.
But none has been more successful than fellow University of California, Davis alumnus, Martin Yan--host of the popular PBS series "Yan Can Cook",--Go Aggies!
"CAN" WIN A FREE DATE WITH MARTIN YAN!
Just write in a short essay of 500 words or less, what you like best about dim sum, as well as what you like least about dim sum. Your essay will be reviewed by a panel of dim sum masters who will be looking for sincerity, depth of analysis, and purpose in your composition. The victorious winner will dine at the popular "Goo Ling Jing Gwaai Restaurant" with Mr. Yan.**
**Note that this contest is in NO
WAY endorsed by Martin Yan, NOR is this web page, so after
completing your entry, cast aside all thoughts of ever winning a date with Mr. Yan through
this contest. Lotsa luck to you!
E-Mail entries to: sDimSumMaster@woohoo.org
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Yum Cha with the WOOs
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