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You may be familiar with dim sum, or you might think it’s a description of how a poor student does an arithmetic problem. It’s the name for small, translucent-skinned Chinese dumplings with a broad range of light dfillings that include meat, seafood, and vegetables, as well as desserts.
Pervasive in China, plentiful in Hawaii and relatively unknown on the mainland, you surely will find it on several of the menus you peruse while you’re on vacation here in the islands.
There are dim sum restaurants and dim sum stands in Honolulu’s Chinatown, Waikiki and virtually everywhere else on all the islands, and high-end restaurants — especially those that feature fusion cuisine and Hawaii Regional Cuisine — serve it enhanced with sensational sauces. Almost everyone, including children, love it.
Dim Sum is cooked mostly by steaming and deep-frying. The pieces are normally served as three or four in one dish.
The most popular steamed selections (at least with vacationers) are steamed pork spareribs and char siu (steamed buns with roast pork), and har gao (shrimp dumplings). Deep-fried treats include mini spring rolls and wu gok
, a type of taro turnover. Chefs like to prepare their own versions, and those always are worth trying.
Here are two of the other more common selections you’ll find at most dim sum restaurants:
Spring Rolls are made with a thin wrapper and are lighter and less filling than egg rolls. They usually consist of dried mushrooms and shredded meat and carrot or bamboo shoots, then seasoned with oyster sauce, shoyu (soy sauce), and sugar.
Egg Custard is steamed with meat or seafood.
If you’d like some suggestions for good dim sum places near where you’re staying in Hawaii, pick an agent from the Hawaii-Aloha Web site home page (hawaii-aloha.com), or call 1-800-843-8771.