Dim Sum Rings in New Year

By Pierce, Kim | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), January 23, 1995 | Go to article overview

Dim Sum Rings in New Year


Pierce, Kim, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


CHINESE NEW YEAR, which falls on Jan. 31, is China's biggest holiday - and an ideal time to discover the ease with which dim sum can be prepared at home.

Loosely translated as "heart's delight," dim sum is an array of appetizer-sized morsels, from meat-filled dumplings to sweet buns, offered on trays to diners, who select the ones that "delight their heart."

In southern China, teahouses have served dim sum since the 10th century. The ancient tradition probably grew out of holiday feasting. People wanted to enjoy the parade of goodies more often than two or three times a year.

Today, some restaurants employ entire separate kitchen staffs dedicated to preparing the bite-sized foods. But home cooks need only look as far as the freezer case at specialty Asian markets for a wide selection of dim sum possibilities. Preparation is as easy as boiling, microwaving or sauteing.

Dumplings are among the easiest offerings to prepare. You drop them in boiling water, like ravioli.

The dumplings go into the boiling water and cook for five to six minutes until they float to the top, or until the bottoms puff out.

The round wheat buns with such stuffings as pork, sweet red bean paste or vegetables can be popped in the microwave.

The pancakes are best sauteed, still frozen, in a medium-hot heavy skillet coated with oil. Total cooking time is less than two minutes.

More ambitious cooks might try pot stickers, which are first steamed or boiled and then pan-fried.

The most common dipping sauce for dim sum is a combination to taste of soy sauce, rice vinegar (mellower than other vinegars) and hot chile oil. You can add chopped green onion, garlic and ginger.

Some people also like sweet and sour sauce, which is available bottled at Asian groceries. Hoisin sauce also is an option.

Add Chinese coleslaw and rice to complete the meal.

Although dim sum started in southern China, the tradition of making dumplings for holidays runs deep in the northern part of the nation. Families make dumplings together for New Year's.

This year, the Chinese will usher in 4693, the Year of the Pig.

On New Year's Eve, celebrants rush home to eat what may be their last meal together, according to ancient tradition. …

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