Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Simran. Simran Wonders, “What is dim sum and is it edible?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Simran!

Do you like Chinese food? We do! From sesame chicken to fried rice to egg rolls, there’s nothing like the food of China to get our taste buds singing.

Chinese food doesn’t always come in those neat takeout cartons, though. If you’ve ever tried dim sum, you know what we’re talking about.

Dim sum is a special style of Chinese food. It’s created as small, individual—sometimes even bite-sized—portions of various dishes. Often it’s served on small plates or in steamer baskets. Restaurants that offer dim sum often serve ready-to-eat dishes from carts that travel around the restaurant. That way, people can choose their dishes as they sit at their tables.

What do you drink with dim sum? Tea, of course! Dim sum is actually linked with the historic Chinese tradition of yum cha, which means “tea tasting.”

Hundreds of years ago, teahouses were built along the ancient Silk Road. Tired travelers would stop to rest and enjoy a cup of tea. It was only a matter of time until snacks were made part of the tradition.

Dim sum may have started as a snack, but it has become a key part of Chinese food culture. It’s especially popular in Hong Kong. In many areas, restaurants begin serving dim sum early in the morning. Many older Chinese people go to eat dim sum after their morning exercises.

So, what exactly might you find at a dim sum meal? There could be several dozen different dishes. Here are some of the most popular:

  • Dumplings: See-through rice flour or wheat starch skins are filled with various ingredients, such as beef, pork, chicken, shrimp, or vegetables.

  • Buns: Called bau, these fluffy buns are made from wheat flour and then filled with meats, vegetables or bean pastes before being steamed or baked.

  • Rice Noodle Rolls: Wide rice noodles are steamed, rolled, fried and then sprinkled with sesame seeds. They can be eaten plain or filled with meats and vegetables.

  • Congee: This thick, sticky rice is served as porridge with various savory ingredients.

  • Meats: Dim sum meats might include spare ribs, steamed meatballs or phoenix claws, which are chicken feet that have been deep fried, boiled and marinated in a black bean sauce.

How does that sound to you? Will you make dim sum part of your next dinner? We think it’s one of the most delicious traditions around.

Standards: CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.SL.1, CCRA.W.2, CCRA.L.1, CCRA.L.2

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