You can make some of what is available at a dim sum restaurant, but a lot of the wrappers and things take quite a bit of time to get right. The book Dim Sum: The Art of Chinese Tea Lunch by Ellen Blonder is pretty good in terms of keeping things simple though.
I wouldn't let your experience at the restaurant keep you from going back though, it sounds like you made some ordering mistakes. It's really a lot easier if you bring someone who knows what they like on the menu to help you make ordering decisions (never having been to place that makes you order off a menu, you get a name for everything that comes to the table, but it's still sometimes a guessing game). Personally I tend to go for the "easy" stuff, Hargow,shumai, other shrimp/pork/pork&shrimp wrapped with things (cilantro, winter melon, mushrooms, etc), fried turnip cakes, lotus leaf wrapped rice (this one's a must for me) because I always know that it will be good and that I'll like it. And don't worry about trying to show off by ordering chicken feet or intestines, unless you are just being adventurous or have a feeling that you'll like it.
I second this book. I've made the pork ribs in black bean sauce, shu mai, lotus leaf wrapped rice, and bbq pork buns. Totally easy and tastes great.
Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.
David Chang's pork buns from the Momofuku Cookbook are fantastic.
Eileen Yin-Fei Lo's The Chinese Kitchen has some fantastic Dim Sum and other recipes. She also has an earlier hard to find book "Dim Sum Book" considered the bible of Dim Sum. Ophelia makes a good point on the wrappers-however there is no need to make them, just purchase them pre-made, youll findthem in the refrigerator and freezer sections of any asian market. I've been married into a Chinese family for over 20 years, and except for one very specialized type of dumpling, my mother-in-law would never make any wrappers for her dumplings and dim sum! The all freeze very well-so you can stock up on them when you find them.
Chris is a trusted source on General Cooking
I have the Blonder book too and also an older one by Eileen Yin Fei. Making dim sum is something I do every decade or two. While it's fun to make it, it's a ton of work. And your experience not withstanding, it's usually better and more varied at a restaurant. Reading about your restaurant visit, I'd suggest you make your next restaurant visit with a pro. It'll help your kitchen skills too--dim sum is easier to make if you know what the little bites from heaven are supposed to taste like.
Eileen alo has another great cookbook with plenty of Dim Sum items, Mastering the Art of Chinese Cooking. I have had the pleasure of taking a cooking class with her, and she is considered the "Marcella Hazan" of Chinese cooking. Her food is very authentic, and shes been teaching for like 40 years.
It can be a lot of things other then steamed dumplings.
While this might be more Thai inspired..they would help fill out a fried textural element to a dim sum meal.
Firecracker Shrimp. http://steamykitchen.com...
Mastering the Art of Chinese Cooking is by Barbara Tropp, and I'm sure because I own it and love it.
Firecracker Shrimp are delicious but I have only had them in Thai restaurants, though they are very dim sum like item. Yum.
Well I own "Mastering the Art of Chinese Cooking" and mine is written by Eileen Yin Fei Lo! Must be two books with the same name!
Barbara Tropp's book is "The Modern Art of Chinese Cooking".......
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