Why Too Much Dim Sum Is Bad For You
STORY: Pearlyn Tham
07 October 2019
Most dim sum dishes come as exquisitely wrapped and steamed morsels of meat or shrimp. So you may be tricked into thinking that they are a healthier and “lighter” option, compared to something like a plate of nasi lemak or a bowl of chicken curry noodles.
But if you binge on too much dim sum – yes, even the steamed dishes – it can all add up to a rather unhealthy meal. If you are watching your weight and health, it’s best not to make reservations for a dim sum ala carte buffet, you know, the sort where you can order as much as you can eat at one fixed price.
Here’s a snapshot of how the calories all add up (and we haven’t even considered the fat and sodium content that is found in high levels in dim sum and most Chinese dishes), based on a typical dim sum meal.
The shocking truth? You would have consumed more than 1,500 calories in just one sitting. As it is recommended that most of us should not exceed more than 2,500 calories in a day, this means that your dim sum buffet should be the only meal you have in a day.
3 x siew mai
Depending on the source (and how the restaurant makes theirs), one of these pork and shrimp parcels can pack in anything from 28 to even 100 calories – the latter estimate for recipes that use a lot of fatty pork to give a moister consistency.
Total calories: 300
3 x har gow
This is a little healthier than siew mai because it usually has just shrimp. One of these contains about 30 calories but never dip yours in soya sauce as that would raise the already-generous sodium content (how else would the shrimp taste so good within a bland rice wrapper).
Total calories: 90
1 x steamed rice roll
This is healthy on its own, if you eat it without any filling and also without any soya sauce. But who goes to a dim sum restaurant and not have the shrimp or char siew-stuffed versions? One stuffed roll would give you about 80 calories. It’s a good thing that in a social setting, most of us would be too shy to hog the entire plate of two or three rolls.
Total calories: 80
2 x baked char siew pastry puffs
These will cost you about 200 calories each. They don’t taste so delicious for nothing and it’s always hard to just stop at one. If you like these as well as BBQ pork buns, you’d better plan a gym workout later.
Total calories: 400
Steamed pork ribs in black bean sauce
This isn’t popular with everyone at the dining table, which is why you might polish off all of it if you are a fan.
Total calories: 250
1 x turnip cake
If you have the steamed version, it is about 170 calories a piece. Imagine how many more calories you’ll be consuming if you go for the (definitely tastier) fried version with dollops of X.O sauce!
Total calories: 170
1 x egg tart
That comfortingly gooey yellow centerpiece and fragrant all-round crust don’t come free… of calories.
Total calories: 80
Mango sago dessert
Something sweet and cold to finish off a satisfying meal will add another 200 calories to your already-over-the-limit binge.
Total calories: 200