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What is Dim Sim?

By G. Wiesen
Updated May 16, 2024
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Dim sim is a dish commonly found in Australian cuisine that was influenced by and somewhat related to traditional Chinese dim sum. The Australian variety can be made with a number of different fillings, though it often includes meat, and is wrapped in a large, fairly thick dumpling wrapper. It is then deep fried, though it can be steamed, and is typically served in various restaurants and “takeaway” eateries throughout Australia. Dim sim is often much larger than traditional Chinese dim sum, and frequently includes flavors somewhat different from those used in traditional Cantonese cuisine.

The term “dim sim” has become common usage in Australian English and was likely meant as an imitation of “dim sum” due to the similarity between the two dishes. This usage has even led to the generalization of the term “dim sim” and its improper use in reference to traditional dim sum. The origins of this dish are frequently credited to a Chinese chef named William Wing Young, who was working in Australia and is said to have developed them in an effort to create a dish inspired by Chinese cuisine that would appeal to Australian sensibilities.

Dim sim is typically prepared similar to a Cantonese dumpling, but often on a much larger scale. The amount of filling and wrapper used to make these dumplings is typically twice that of traditional Chinese dim sum dumplings, and the wrapper is also quite a bit thicker than the light, thin wrapping used for Cantonese dumplings. While dim sim can be steamed, often in baskets similar to those used in dim sum preparation and service, they are typically deep fried in oil. This produces a deep golden coloration, and an exterior that is strong enough to resist becoming soggy, while also flaky and crisp.

A number of different fillings can be used to create dim sim, though meat filling tends to be most common in Australia. This filling often consists of ground or minced pork and lamb, to which different spices and herbs can be added, commonly including a large amount of ginger that produces a stronger flavor than Cantonese cooking. There are also variations that utilize tofu or chicken, and vegetarian dumplings are commonly available filled with a mixture of shredded carrots and cabbage. Dim sim is often served with soy sauce.

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