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New Business Ideas No. 16: The Dim Sim or dimmy
by Murray Hunter
2014-07-04 10:36:08
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Most of you would have heard about dim sum, which are usually tiny bite size foods traditionally served in small steamer baskets at many Chinese restaurants around the world. This comes from an older yum cha or tea tasting tradition that reportedly grew out of travelers needing a place to rest and eat along the ancient silk road route, many centuries ago.

As we now all see, dim sum are now also some of Asia's most interesting fast food, which can be bought in take home packs at almost any supermarket or banged into the microwave oven for a couple of minutes at almost every 7-Eleven around the region. Street versions also exist with meat and meatballs or even squid on bamboo skewers, and all sorts of other interesting food combinations that can be dipped into some available local sauce.

Well a version of the dim sum downunder in Australia, called the dim sim, or 'dimmy' for short, evolved almost two centuries ago with the Chinese who came out for the goldrush in the 1850s. In those days when food was scarce, they were probably made mostly out of cabbage.

The modern Australian dimmy is Chinese inspired back in the mid 20th century in local Chinese restaurants set up from the Australian born Chinese population at the time. Dim Sims are made from some form of soy marinated meat like Beef, chicken, lamb, or pork, mixed with cabbage, spring onion, and other flavorings, encased in a thick dumpling wrapper similar to shumai. They are much (about 3 times) larger than traditional dim sum, where 2 or 3 can be consumed as a full meal.

Over the years this dish has become a popular Australian staple, served at Chinese restaurants as an entree, fish and chip shops, and even petrol kiosks. Many outlets developed reputations for producing very tasty dim sims which were specifically sort out by local clientele and developed strong reputations, such as the "Wing Lee" dim sims. Traditionally dim sims were steamed allowing all the flavor to come out, but were latter deep fried and even barbecued. A number of companies pack frozen dim sims for supermarket sales for eating at home.


Picture: Steamed and deep fried dim sims

A simple recipe for dim sims would be as follows;

A mince of beef, chicken, lamb or pork

Fresh red chilli finely chopped up (optional)

Crushed garlic

Finely sliced cabbage

Finely chopped spring onion

Soy and/or fish sauce

Lightly whisked egg

Thick wonton wrappers

Place the chilli, garlic, spring onion, cabbage, whisked egg, and soy in a bowl and mix well, add the mince, and lay the wonton wrappers out on the table. Place a spoonful of each on the centre of each wonton and wrap it up like a little bag. 

To cook, prepare a steamer and place the dim sims inside in a single layer so they won't stick together, and steam for 10-15 minutes depending on size. This may take some trial and error to ensure that the centre of the dim sim is actually cooked.


Dim Sims have been grossly underestimated about their potential within Asia and even the rest of the world. Correctly made quality dim sims have a unique taste and make for a filling snack that would be popular from Japan right through to Africa.

Dims sims would make a great complementary side order for the thousands of coffee stands around Thailand, and find their pride of place in coffee shops around Malaysia. They should definitely be available in the food malls of Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.

Dim sims are a perfect entrepreneurial opportunity for someone who wants to have something different with great potential mass acceptability among fast food consuming public.

You can go up-market with gourmet dim sims and send them into selected coffee shops around town. You could open your own stall and eventually franchise the concept wherever you are, be it London, Munich, Amsterdam, or even Copenhagen.

Dims sims run the gauntlet between East and West. They were the original fusion food, unrecognized as such for the last One Hundred years. With fusion trends in food taking their grip around the world today, the dim sim is there ready for anybody who is enterprising enough to capitalize on something new in their area.

Dim sims have competed against the great Australian pie, sausage rolls, hot dogs, potato cakes, and fish and chips for a century. They have survived the test of time in Australia, which has become a truly multicultural society and become acceptable snack for all. 

It's time for the dimmy to take on the world.



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