(Roughly) Daily

Dim Sum for Dummies…


From the good folks at Buzzfeed, a guide to 點心 (dian xin), or “dim sum” as we tend to know it.

There’s a bit of historical context…

In the beginning, dim sum was a verb that merely meant “to eat a little something.” Cantonese dim sum culture began in tearooms in the latter half of the nineteenth century in the city of Guangzou, possibly because of the recent ban of opium dens. It spread and gained popularity—especially in nearby Hong Kong…

And a set of handy icons…

All informing a type-by-type rundown on one’s brunch options.  For example:

(Mand. zheng jiao; Cant. zing gau)
Unleavened wheat dough wrapper family

The body of these two-inch dumplings have a plump gumdrop shape; their thin skins are closed with simple folds or multiple pleats across the top, The wrappers are made from a light and supple “hot dough,” a combination of boiling water and Chinese noodle flour, and may be colored with vegetable juices like carrot or spinach. Fillings vary, but are usually pork or shrimp with vegetables and aromatics such as ginger, Chinese chives, green onions, bok choy, Chinese cabbage, carrots, black mushrooms, and wood ear fungus. Vegetarian dumplings are typically a combination of vegetables, cellophane noodles and scrambled eggs. Chinese dumplings (both boiled jiao zi and steamed zheng jiao) probably originated in Muslim areas along the northern Silk Road, where wheat pasta was the main staple, but are now common from Beijing in the north to Guangdong in the south. Sometimes steamed dumplings are formed into fanciful shapes, like goldfish and heads of garlic. Exterior tacky; interior juicy.

Take the complete tour of the baskets at “The Essential Guide to Dim Sum.”


As we reach for our chopsticks, we might recall that it was on this date in 1868 that William Davis, a Detroit fish dealer, received a patent for the first practical refrigerated rail car.  Entrepreneurs looking to expand the market for agricultural goods had been trying since 1842 to ship produce and meat via rail.  But these early “ice box on wheels” designs were impractical (as most worked only in cold weather).  Davis’ innovation was to create a car that used metal racks to suspend meat above and between a frozen mixture of ice and salt. Davis’ design worked well as a preservative strategy; but the carcasses had a way of swinging to one side on their hooks when the car entered a curve at high speed… which led to several derailments and the discontinuation of their use.  It wasn’t until 1878, and a “cooling from the top; meat stacked low” approach developed by Andrew Chase for the meat packers Swift & Co., that refrigerated cars came into continuous use.



Written by (Roughly) Daily

January 16, 2013 at 1:01 am

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