Its time for Dim Sum

Little Diva NJD is ready for dim sum in Seoul Korea

Taking mandarin lessons is tough….the language is tough as it is but for some reason, most syllabus use food a lot in the lessons – I guess because everyone knows Chinese food so our dear teachers think it’s the easiest way to teach us the language.

Tonight my lesson was on Shaomai (shāo mài) which  is a traditional Chinese dumpling served in dianxin/dim sum. The first time I had this was on a roadside stall in Malaysia on my way from KL to Penang. My companion spoke mainly Cantonese and was a huge fan of dim sum. All I knew was that I loved the little bamboo steamers it came in and enjoyed each delicate piece with a dollop of spicy chilli sauce.

In my lesson today, I learnt that I should be able to recognise a Shaomai as it has a fluffy and flowery shape on the top. Although shaomai originates from steamed stuffed bun (I’ve seen a lot of these a lot on the streets of Malaysia, Hong Kong, Macau and Singapore), these two similar kinds of food have two main differences. First, the outer covering of shaomai is made of a thin sheet of lye water dough; Secondly, shaomai differ from steamed buns in that their outer covering is not sealed but instead has a pomegranate shape….i prefer the shaomai any day.

Once well steamed in the pot, shaomai are prized for the thin skin and abundant fillings. Shaomai is in the shape of a cup, not only delicious but also beautiful. There are two regional varieties of shaomai: a Cantonese version and a version from the Jiangnan region…frankly I couldn’t tell the difference but I certainly love a good shaomai in my Friday brunch.

In KL, I loved the dim sum varieties at the Pan Pacific Sunday brunch, In Singapore its best to try it at Paradise Point and in Dubai, Shangri-La does it best! I didn’t have much time in Korea and Macau to try good recommended Dim Sum but the best has to be in Hong Kong – I wanted to go to Maxim’s on the way to Fiji but the stopover was too short so I tried random restaurants and they were all awesome for dim sum.

Once again, I have diverted to food… I blame my Mandarin instructor. Each lesson this week was related to food and brought back heaps of memories from Asia.

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