How to Do Dim Sum

The dos and don'ts of this classic Chinese meal
| FROM THE PRINT EDITION |
 
 
Dim Sum is the ultimate small plate meal; these choices are from Joyale Seafood Restaurant in Chinatown/International District

There’s no shortage of places in Seattle to enjoy dim sum, the classic Chinese meal of shared food on small plates. If you’re a newbie to this tradition, which involves servers who push carts of dishes around the dining room for diners to choose from, Hsiao-Ching Chou, author of Chinese Soul Food (Sasquatch Books, 2018) and former Seattle Post-Intelligencer food editor, offers tips to help you do dim sum right. 

Dim sum do’s:
• Figure out who is the expert at your table, and have that person sit by the aisle so he or she can make choices when the cart comes by. 
• Choose a variety of small dishes, from dumplings to vegetables.
• Serve your neighbors before yourself.
• Ask to order a dish if it’s not offered on the pushcarts.
• Leave the lid of the tea pot open to signal you need a refill.
• Lightly tap the table twice with your index finger to signal “Thank you” when served.
• Place your chopsticks parallel to each other and next to your plate when not eating, and horizontally across your plate to signal you are done eating.


Dim sum don’ts:
• Don’t take more than one serving from a plate; make sure everyone gets a piece.
• Don’t put your chopsticks down with the ends crossed, stab food with them or leave them in your bowl standing up; all symbolize death.  
• Don’t serve yourself with your own chopsticks (it’s just gross!), use the serving chopsticks or spoons. 

One last do: Sign up for Chou’s February 25 hands-on dim sum class offered by Tom Douglas’ Hot Stove Society (hotstovesociety.com) and find her recipes at mychinesesoulfood.com.

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