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Best Overall: Dim Sum: The Art of Chinese Tea Lunch at Amazon
"As with the author's previous book, charming watercolors are scattered throughout."
Best Overall, Runner-Up: Chinese Dim Sum at Amazon
"For the cook who has mastered the basics of dim sum and wants to go on to the next stage."
Best Easy to Follow: Dim Sum (The Essential Kitchen Series) at Amazon
"A good resource for the novice."
Best Variety: Dim Sum: Delicious Asian Finger Food at Amazon
"Food stylist Fiona Smith provides innovative twists on traditional dim sum dishes."
"Includes lots of traditional Chinese dishes, such as Szechuan wontons and steamed dumplings."
Best Restaurant Style: Have Some Dim Sum at Amazon
"Besides easy-to-make recipes, Evelyn Chau has included the Cantonese names for each dish."
Best History: The Nom Wah Cookbook
"You'll get a colorful historical background to the restaurant classics you know and love."
Best Guide: Dim Sum: A Pocket Guide at Amazon
"Perfect to take with you to the dim sum restaurant."
Whether you're extremely familiar with Chinese cuisine or you simply meander through Chinatown with friends and family a few times a year (or anywhere in between), you've likely partaken in a dim sum brunch of steamed dumplings, bite-sized meat dishes, fried spring rolls, baked buns, and countless more. But what exactly is dim sum? Originating from Cantonese cuisine, the term dim sum refers to the style of serving a spread of small plates and steamer baskets of sweet and savory foods (often atop carts rolling by) to make a feast. This is traditionally enjoyed by groups of family and friends over tea at brunch time (hence also being known as China's famed "tea brunch").
But it can quickly become expensive dining out at restaurants every time you want to experience the joys of an authentic dim sum feast. And many of these dishes may seem complicated to make. But, surprisingly, and with the right cookbook, many recipes are actually quite simple. Here, our list of the best dim sum cookbooks so you can enjoy a restaurant-style tea brunch in the comfort of your own home.
Best Overall: Dim Sum: The Art of Chinese Tea Lunch
Ellen Leong Blonder tasted and tested her way through the best dim sum recipes from San Francisco to Hong Kong. The result? This carefully put together cookbook for newcomers to dim sum. In this homage, the co-author of Every Grain of Rice provides authentic yet foolproof recipes for all the dim sum classics, from shrimp ha gow to turnip cakes to traditional pork siu mai. The 60-plus recipes are accompanied by detailed step-by-step illustrations that aim to guide readers through such important skills as the craft of forming, filling, and folding dumpling wrappers for potstickers, for example. As with her previous book, charming watercolors are scattered throughout.
Best Overall, Runner-Up: Chinese Dim Sum
This cookbook is for those who are ready to go beyond the basics of dim sum, yet still want simple recipes. This paperback book from Taiwan’s Wei-Chuan Cooking School are chock-full of mostly brief, clearly laid out and numbered recipes, which are accompanied by photos that show the recipes in different stages of the prepping and cooking process. Traditional dim sum recipes featured in this book include roast pork buns, congee, taro cakes, sweet sesame buns, custard tarts, crab siu mai, and countless more.
In addition to being simple to follow, many people found the recipes in the book to be both authentic and flavorful. Plus, they say most of the ingredients are fairly accessible. Just note that not all the standard dim sum dishes you would get from a cart are found in this book.
Best Easy to Follow: Dim Sum (The Essential Kitchen Series)
Vicki Liliey's Dim Sum, part of a series, demystifies dim sum cooking for the novice. The hardcover cookbook provides basic, easy-to-follow dim sum recipes with lots of cooking tips and photo instructions. They're divided into helpful sections, including dumplings, wraps, buns, and type of protein. Dim sum favorites featured in the book include shrimp balls, steamed dumplings, spring rolls, and more.
The cookbook also has other helpful tips and sections to offer, including types of teas, dipping sauces, basic cooking methods (such as how to deep-fry or make buns), common dim sum ingredients, and others. While some say this isn't the most authentic dim sum book out there, it does make a great gift, especially for those new to the cuisine.
Best Variety: Dim Sum: Delicious Asian Finger Food
Food stylist Fiona Smith provides innovative twists on traditional dim sum dishes. This hardcover cookbook features dishes not just from China, but also Thailand, Malaysia, Japan, and Vietnam. Smith, who owns a catering business, makes sure that the 30 recipes in this book have been tested and that they're simple to prep and make, using methods suitable for the home cook. The creative finger food recipes, which are accompanied by vibrant photographs, include jicama and lime salad, five-spiced custard wraps, chili beef wontons, and pea shoot and shrimp dumplings.
Our favorite recipe? Bok choy rolls with spicy chicken—an interesting variation on lettuce wraps. Also not to be missed are the pearl balls made with black and white glutinous rice. Reviewers say most of the ingredients in this book are easy to find, or easy to find substitutes for, and that it's great for hosting gatherings—just don't expect it to be the most authentic.
Best Quick: Asian Wraps: Deliciously Easy Hand-held Bundles
Nina Simond, author of A Spoonful of Ginger and Asian Noodles, has this time around put together a book of 75 flavorful dishes that you won't need a fork or chopsticks to consume.
Asian Wraps features recipes that make use of a wide variety of wrappers, from nori (seaweed) to spring roll wrappers, from lettuce to pita bread. This hardcover cookbook includes lots of traditional Chinese recipes that are quick and easy to make, such as Szechuan won tons, flaky curried turnovers, and steamed dumplings; Simond also includes other tasty Asian snacks, such as lemony Thai salad, seared garlic beef with roasted red peppers, and more. There are even some fusion recipes, such as the inventive Chinese jerk chicken in a flour tortilla.
A bonus? The book features a generous amount of colorful photos.
Best Restaurant Style: Have Some Dim Sum
This is no mere recipe collection. In this paperback, Evelyn Chau also uses a knowledgeable yet intimate writing style to describe over 50 common dishes in great detail. In fact, giving readers a wider perspective around what goes into each dish is what made this book stand out from its counterparts, according to several reviewers. Besides easy-to-make recipes—some of which were collected from top chefs—the author has also included the Cantonese names for each dish, which also makes it a useful guide when dining out at a dim sum restaurant. It's also great for picky eaters or those with allergies who want to know what's in each dish they're eating. Standout recipes in the book include stuffed eggplants and shrimp rolls.
Best History: The Nom Wah Cookbook
Fans of dim sum history will appreciate The Nom Wah Cookbook: Recipes and Stories from 100 Years at New York City's Iconic Dim Sum Restaurant by Wilson Tang and Joshua David Stein. More than simply a collection of classic dim sum recipes (of which there are 75), the cookbook also has Tang, the owner of the famous Nom Wah Tea Parlor in New York's Chinatown, guiding readers through his restaurant's 100 years of history. In engaging fashion (and accompanied by gorgeous photography), the book takes us on a Chinese cultural journey from Guandong province to Hong Kong to a street formerly called The Bloody Angle in New York City, where the dim sum restaurant came to be. Along the way, you'll get simple yet detailed recipes for the dishes you know and love, from dumplings to rice rolls to buns to dessert.
Best Guide: Dim Sum: A Pocket Guide
I'm cheating a bit here, since this isn't actually a cookbook, but I just had to include Kit Shan Li's excellent guide for the novice or inexperienced dim sum diner. An added plus is the book's compact size—perfect to take with you to the dim sum restaurant. This book includes descriptions, English and Cantonese names (and phonetic pronunciations), and colorful photographs of 48 of the most popular dishes served at a dim sum brunch, from steamed chive dumplings to turnip cakes. A bonus is the tips on dim sum restaurant etiquette, such as how to get your teapot refilled and how to use chopsticks.