Nearly 2000 years ago, small teahouses started popping up on the silk road around China and Asia to serve weary travelers.
These teahouses started offering delicious little snacks, which are today known as “dim sum,”. Rather sweetly, this roughly translates to “a little bit of heart/spirit”.
Dim sum can range from savory, sticky, soy-stuffed Siu Mai to doughy, somewhat sweet rolls filled with fake meat called Cha Siu Bao.
Dim sum quickly traveled around the world as people immigrated and settled in new places, and now in North America, this dish is especially popular.
Despite this though, the vegan options at many dim sum restaurants are a bit lacklustre.
So what can you do if you’re craving some authentic vegan dim sum? Well, make it at home of course!
By creating this incredible dish in your own kitchen, you’ll have complete say over the components, and compared to other similar foods from Asia, dim sum is not only easy to make but also requires very few ingredients.
One of the best things about dim sum encourages creative expression.
Inviting friends to a cooking session or enlisting the help of roommates and family members can turn the act of cooking into an experience that is just as enjoyable as eating the meal itself.
Keep reading to find the very best vegan dim sum recipes to try out the next time you’re craving some authentic Asian foods!
1. Cha Siu Bao
Cha Siu Bao is a white roll that is soft, circular and has a hint of sweetness to it.
This kind of dumpling can be loaded with either sweet or savory ingredients, so you can easily customize the fillings to suit any taste or dietary needs.
If you want the Cha Sui Bao to be a savory, doughy roll that’s both filling and cooling, steam some Cha Siu Bao and stuff the dumplings with spicy seitan and vegan sour cream.
These white rolls are spherical, soft, and slightly sweet. They have quite a spicy kick, but since they are wrapped in mouth-rescuing dough, you should be able to make it through the experience.
Congee is a warm, hearty rice soup that has a consistency similar to that of porridge. While you are taking a break from the small bits, ladle yourself with a bowl of congee.
This recipe can be considered a form of dim sum, as it uses many of the same ingredients and is typically also served alongside regular dim sum at meal times.
The fact that it tastes somewhat as grits or oatmeal serves as a helpful reminder that in China, dim sum is typically consumed at breakfast.
It is possible to top it with sweet or savory ingredients, but the traditional combination is pork, scallions, ginger, and a thousand-year-old egg (not literally 1000 years old, it’s just an egg that’s taken a very long time to prepare!).
This recipe has replaced these traditional ingredients with vegan (see also: 7 Amazing Vegan Chanterelle Recipes)alternatives.
Rice is typically boiled in a significant amount of water for a very long time to make this dish, so be prepared to put a bit of prep work in!
3. Siu Mai
These bite-sized appetizers are excellent for the springtime season since they are savory, and light, and only require a few simple ingredients.
If ordering takeaway chow mein isn’t cutting it for your cravings for Chinese food, try your hand at making these traditional dumplings with an open top instead.
Siu Mai is a type of classic dumpling that is steamed open-topped and typically contains a savory mélange.
If you make a batch of these, you may enjoy the delectable mix of vegetarian chicken, shiitake mushrooms, and cabbage.
The thought of making homemade dumplings is enough to stress out any novice cook. But these adorable dumplings are so simple to make that even inexperienced cooks can very easily make them.
Guotie, also known as Chinese pan-fried pot stickers, are an essential component of any dim sum spread and cannot be skipped.
These wonderful dumplings come in the shape of a half-moon and have a crispy exterior. They are delicious either eaten on their own or dipped in a sweet sesame soy sauce.
You may not have heard of Jamie Oliver if you live in the Stares, but in the UK, he’s a household name.
One of the best chefs to come from England, Jamie Oliver has put his own twist on almost every recipe and meal you can think of, dim sum included.
People will go crazy for these vegan soft steamed buns since they are loaded with mushrooms prepared in an Asian way and hoisin sauce.
This recipe for homemade mushroom shumai is incredibly simple to put together.
This is a vegetarian variation of this dish that’s created with sticky rice, mushrooms, and peas. This dish is delicious when coated in some soy sauce and chile oil.
Lamb, ginger, and scallion are the typical ingredients that make this dish, though if you’ve had it in restaurants that specialize in dim sum, it most likely contained pork and/or shrimp in its original preparation.
This recipe for mushroom shumai aims to make the classic meal a little bit more nutritious, in addition to being completely free of animal products.
Ok so this one isn’t a dumpling, but it’s the very best dessert that you could serve after your dumpling-filled main meal!
The thing about dumplings is that they can often be quite spicy, especially if you’ve gone in hard with the chili sauce.
If you love spice, then this isn’t really a problem, but you’d probably appreciate a cooling dessert after all of that excitement.
This dessert, which is both sweet and uncomplicated, is the ideal way to round off a meal with an Asian flavor profile.
Since it needs a little time in the refrigerator to firm up, this is an outstanding dessert that you can toss together just before your guests arrive if you’re planning a huge dinner party.
As a side note, this dessert can also be made in bulk, and as you will see from this recipe, it’s served in little glasses.
This makes it very easy to serve this dessert at larger gatherings or events where people will want to socialize and enjoy an easy-to-eat snack at the same time.
How To Eat Dim Sum The Right Way
Did you know that there’s some etiquette you should follow when eating dim sum?
Obviously, if you’re making and eating it at home then you can do this however you want, but what about when eating in a restaurant?
Here are some “Do’s” and “Don’ts” that you should think about when eating dim sum.
- In a lot of Asian restaurants, dumplings are served on carts that are brought to each table. Guests can choose from the cart. But what if there aren’t many vegan options? You’re welcome to place an order from the restaurant’s regular menu if the vegetable alternatives available from the cart service aren’t enough to make up a meal, or you’d simply like more options
- The sautéed greens are typically brought around on carts, but if you are dining with a large party, it may be best to order one vegetable noodle dish for the table.
- Don’t use your chopsticks as skewers to stab dumplings. If you want things to go more smoothly, pick up the dumplings closer to the knot. Take a nibble from the side of the dumpling and place it on the spoon so that the soup will fall upon it. Take a few sips of the broth and savor it before moving on to eating the dumpling in its entirety.
What About Tea?
Tea is an essential component of the dim sum experience and comes with its own set of protocol guidelines.
For example, don’t pour your own cup of tea until you have confirmed that all of the other people have been served. Tap the table to offer your appreciation to whoever poured your tea for you if it was someone else.
Raise the lid of the teapot to one side, but do not remove it completely, or place it on the table to communicate to your waiter that you’d like more servings.
That’s all well and good if you’re eating at a restaurant, but what about making tea at home?
To make the ideal cup of tea at home, bring four cups’ worth of water to a boil.
Mix in four bags of green tea, two vanilla beans that have been split in half, three tablespoons of agave nectar, and a tiny handful of mint leaves.
After turning off the burner, let the mixture sit in the saucepan for five minutes. Pour through a strainer, and then enjoy alongside your homemade dim sum!
Try any of the above vegan-friendly dim sum recipes the next time you want to try to recreate authentic Chinese flavors in your kitchen.