Is Dim Sum Spicy?

If the Spanish have tapas — small plates that serve up bite-sized portions of meats or veggies that you can enjoy with your wine — the southern Chinese or Cantonese have dim sum — servings of buns, dumplings, and other savories and sweets that are normally enjoyed with tea.

Dimsum can be cooked in any number of ways — steamed, stir-fried, roasted or baked — and in most cases the treats are kept warm in baskets atop steam table trolleys and pushed around by servers, allowing diners to inspect the contents before the treats are served. Dimsum is designed to be eaten with tea, and as such, its flavors are meant to complement the brew. And just to make sure no one gets away with not paying for something, servers keep count by adding a stamp for every dish that is ordered (via The Serious Eats).

If you're looking for a spicy kick, dim sum won't be your first choice if you are craving Chinese food, but there is always the option of chowing down with soy sauce, with a helping of fresh chilis or chili paste to fire up the meal (via Business Insider).

Dim sum is an umami symphony of small bites

Its lack of spiciness aside, dim sum is a symphony of flavors. There is the honey sweetness of the char siu bao or the char siu so — one steamed, the other baked, and filled with roasted Chinese pork, which has been marinated and seasoned with honey, soy sauce, and Chinese five spice (via Thrillist). 

Cheung fun, or steamed rice rolls, are delicately steamed and then stuffed with a selection of pork, fresh shrimp, or vegetables before the dish is bathed in a light and salty soy sauce. 

Fried taro dumplings have a crisp, light, airy exterior that cracks before it gives way to a smooth mash and reveals a center filled with mushrooms and ground pork.

For shrimp lovers, there is har gow, a delicately seasoned shrimp dumpling. Shumai is another dim sum staple filled with ground pork and shrimp with mushrooms, ginger, and scallion.

Dim sum doesn't just deliver on the savories — it has desserts too. There is dan tat, a crusty pastry filled with a creamy custard that is enough to satisfy a craving for something sweet to wrap up a meal. Sesame balls have the crunch of a sesame seed exterior and the squishy texture of mochi that gives way to a sweet bean filling. 

While the flavors present in dim sum are umami and heavenly, the heavy presence of rice and starch also makes the meal a carb lover's dream.