Dim sum is what I like to call the Asian version of Spanish tapas. Both involve ordering small little dishes with bite-sized pieces of food and both are a great way to socialize and catch up with friends. However, dim sum dishes are frequently presented in bamboo steamer baskets or little plates. One of the most popular items on a dim sum menu is the steamed bun. These buns can be stuffed with a number of fillings, such as sweet custard, lotus paste or a meat and vegetable mixture. The most common type is filled with BBQ pork, which is also known as “char siu”.
Over the years, makers of steamed buns have become more creative with their presentation. No longer are the days where buns just look like the plain boring white buns (shown above) with a coloured dot to signify what is inside (yes, there’s a reason for those dots!). When I was in China, they made some buns look like this:
If you look closely, they have a slight imprint of a little bunny. Despite the evil looking eyes, they’re pretty cute. More locally, I found some buns in Toronto that look like little piggies.
I think it’s a great way to attract the attention of customers (or their children) and it is a simple way to keep things fresh and current. Like fashion, the culinary world needs to evolve to stay on top and I think this is a great way of updating the traditional steamed bun.