How to Host Your Own Dim Sum Brunch

Everyone loves a good brunch, but trying to fight the crowds can be a drain. Instead of going, host your own brunch with an Asian twist and enjoy some homemade dim sum. A Chinese version of Spanish tapas, the key to a homemade dim sum brunch feast is variety. Many of these dishes can be made ahead of time and just steamed or cooked in the morning for an easy start to the day.

Dim Sum Go Go

Photo: Robyn Lee

Here are a few classic dishes that normally grace the dim sum table and simple recipes to help get you started:

Har Gow (蝦餃)

Har gow (shrimp dumplings)

Photo: Robyn Lee

The classic shrimp dumpling is sure to grace the dim sum table. Plump and juicy shrimp is wrapped in a thin rice wrapper before being steamed. The toughest part of the whole process is making the wrapper thin enough. Don’t worry too much about getting the pleats perfect. As long as you’re able to seal the dumpling together so the juices stay inside, then a delicious dumpling is waiting for you.

Serious Eats has a great recipe with step by step photos of the har gow making process, however, it is presented in an non-traditional format. To see how to get a more traditional pleat on the dumpling, this is a great video.

Shumai (燒賣)

Another classic dumpling on the dim sum table, shumai traditionally combines pork, shrimp, Chinese mushrooms, green onions and ginger. However, shumai with different filling can be commonly found. What makes it uniquely a shumai is its open ended shape. Using premade wonton wrappers speeds up the shumai making process.

You can go with a traditional pork and shrimp shumai mixture or go vegan with this sticky rice shumai version typically found in Shanghai.

BBQ Pork Buns (叉燒包)

BBQ Pork Buns or char siu baos, are a concoction of sweet and savory Chinese BBQ pork in a light and fluffy bun. Access to BBQ pork from a Chinese butcher speeds up this process. However, if you don’t have a shop nearby, roasting your own BBQ pork requires time, but is a fairly simple process.

A simple BBQ pork bun recipe with step by step photos and If you need to make your own Chinese BBQ pork, follow these instructions. You can even make a vegan version which doesn’t require any roasting.

Sticky Rice (糯米雞)

A meal in itself, sticky rice or lor mai gai, is glutinous rice mixed with chicken, Chinese sausage, mushrooms, scallions and often dried shrimp. It’s then all wrapped up inside a dried lotus leaf before being steamed giving it a fragrant smoky flavor. Dried lotus leaf can be hard to come by, so the dish can also be enjoyed without the last steaming process. Don’t be put off with the long list of ingredients which are mostly just sauces. No more complicated than a traditional fried rice, lor mai gai is quick and simple to put together.

Here is a traditional sticky rice recipe with a lotus leaf and steamed, but sometimes sourcing a lotus leaf can be hard. Sticky rice can be made without a lotus leaf it as well.

Mango Pudding

mango pudding fraser court 2014-08-26 12.49.32

Photo: leesamlong

End the meal on a sweet note with a tasty mango pudding. A reminder of Hong Kong’s British past, the mango pudding is now a staple in dim sum restaurants. Its silky texture and delicious mango flavour will surely win you over. The ones in restaurants are typically served with a layer of evaporated milk on top, but feel free to omit that last step. You can often find mango pudding in powdered form in your local Asian grocery store, but it’s just as easy to make your own.

Local Vancouver blogger Liza has two easy mango pudding recipes: one that uses fresh mango and one that uses mango pulp for when fresh mangos are not available.

What are your favorite dim sum dishes? Have you hosted your own dim sum brunch?

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