Some thoughts on Chinese dim sum, the morsels that make up yum cha…
No one in their right mind makes dim sum at home. It is time consuming and best done in large batches. So it is left to dim sum masters, though these days the supermarket versions are machine made.
As a child I learned to make most of the yum cha staples but we did it because Australia’s yum cha restaurant scene was small at the time. The best doughs are sticky and tricky.
To make the dumplings you’re best served doing them in large batches and then freezing them uncooked. And to do this you need a gang of nimble fingered ‘aunties’ to fill and pleat them before the wrappers dry out and so you can get them quickly into the freezer on trays.
And this is the way you can buy them. I get my frozen stash from Hong Kong Dim Sum in Box Hill or Linx in South Melbourne. They wholesale to restaurants.
To prepare the steamed ones, line your steamer with a cloth like the one pictured. The dumplings will never stick and you can lift the whole lot out in one go by lifting the cloth. You can buy these at Asian hospitality ware stores and I have seen them in Daiso. You need never lose you XLB juices to the steamer again.
My other tip is to handle them with bamboo cooking chopsticks. Dumplings will stick to plastic ones and tongs will tear delicate dumpling skins. Traditionally extra long chopsticks are used in Asian cooking and with use they become well seasoned with oil like a well loved wok.