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Anyone know the nutritional value of dim sum items?

Had a nice (and chea!p) dim sum lunch today. Ate 1 1/2 bbq pork buns (baked), 2 pork dumplings, 2 shrimp dumplings (har gao), and 2 shrimp/crab/pork dumplings (might have been lightly fried -- not sure, it had a yellowish 'tint' to it). In any case, a couple hours later, I'm still stuffed.

So, now I'm wondering -- how many calories do you think I consumed? Dumplings are little, but I'm sure they pack a punch.

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  1. Live in ignorance my friend.

    Knowing the full details of the sodium, fat, cholesterol, calorie content of shu-mai or fried dumplings might very well ruin your enjoyment of dim sum, forever.

    1 Reply
    1. Oh, Asian food served to Americans is horrible for this because the variables are so vast it's usually not worth the trouble to try to estimate it because it's very likely a lot more than you think unless you are limiting yourself to purely steamed, low-fat items, which is sorta cruel. My basic rule of thumb is that if something is very yummy, it probably has more fat than meets the eye. Asian buffets are notorious oilfests, as oil is often used to keep the food glistening under heat lamps....

      For data for the sake of something, you can try Dottie's Weight Loss Zone as a last resort....


      You can tool around the site for other information; it's sorta all over the place.

      1. Yup. Even Asian baked goods, which often seem lighter and fluffier than American counterparts, are often less healthy because they actually require more eggs and butter to achieve fluffiness.

        And yes, you're stuffed because of all the oil used to make dim sum. I often notice that between a cheap dim sum place and an expensive one, I'm almost always to eat more at the expensive place because the techinque of the cooks is better and the dishes end up having less oil in them. Sometimes, the food doesn't even taste all that different, but how I feel afterwards sure does.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Pei

          like at an all you can eat buffet, the food is super greasy so that you eat less.

        2. Don't listen to all these people. Dim sum is very valuable nutritionally! ;~)

          1. Once you've tried them, it's not difficult to tell which items are more protein, more starch, or more oil. If you balance the three, and perhaps add a plate of vegetables (Chinese broccoli comes to mind) then you've taken care of the nutrition and only have to work about whether it tastes good. :-)

            (As for the number of calories, that's difficult to say. Most dim sum are nutrient dense foods, comparable to meatballs, pasta and breads.)

              1. You're all obsessing over calories.

                Look at the big picture:

                Lots of protein, some vegetables, some starch. Satisfying and filling, and you can drink lots of water and tea, which is a good thing.

                If your really worried, order mostly off the steamed cart, avoiding the fried items, go for the smaller/thinner skinned dumplings rather than the big buns (oh, that was SO not intended to sound that way...) and the ones with the most vegetables.
                So, for example, that nice thick fried bun with a bit of roast pork inside, is mostly dough, which is of course pure starch and fat. But those shumai, are really mostly protein wrapped in a thin starch skin.

                But like someone else said, just go and enjoy yourselves !!!

                1. Another report urging chinese to eat less dim sum for the sake of their health:


                  There's a couple lines in there that I find rather ironic now that we know partially hydrogenated fats are so bad for you:

                  "Perhaps proving the cynical adage that it is more expensive to eat healthful foods, the restaurants that are trying to reduce the fat and the salt in their dim sum are often not cheap.

                  One of them is the Man Wah Restaurant at the top of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel (...) it switched from lard to vegetable shortening five years ago."

                  1. The problem with dim sum is that there's generally very little vegetables.

                    Based on frozen food nutritional info, the average steamed veg shumai has about 30 calories per piece. The average steamed vegetable bun has about 75 calories.

                    Oh, and fortune cookies are 30 calories apiece. :-)

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: piccola

                      Well, then, the answer is very simple; just cut out the fortune cookies! ;-)

                    2. just eat things that are steamed, filled with mostly shrimp and vegetables and with a fairly thin skin. they are always my favorite tastewise anyway. Have some soup, a plate of vege and only eat what you enjoy eating. you will be full and you will be lean and you will be happy.

                      1. dim sum is considered breakfast / light lunch... it does not have very many vegetables, but who eats vegetables for breakfast?

                        i grew up on dim sum (eating it weekday when i was little until i had to go to school, then eating it every saturday or sunday with the family) and i still eat it all the time... really you shouldn't be stuffing yourself with dim sum and feel full several hours later.... you have to drink tons of tea with it.... you don't order all your dishes at once, you order one or two, enjoy it while its hot, talk, sip tea, then order some more... more than one pork bun probably is too much starch (i can eat one pork bun for breakfast and i'm good) i usually try to avoid pork buns during dim sum as they will stuff you full, my family orders them only when there are a lot of us and we split them in half.... we try to stick to the different dumplings, rarely the fried stuff, chinese tamales, the meat stuff (spareribs, chicken feet, honeycomb), rice noodles, turnip cake, etc.

                        the dumpling that had the yellowish tint doesn't necessarily mean its fried, its probably wrapped in an egg based skin like shark fin dumplings usually are... if it is fried, it will have a fried consistency

                        rule of thumb for dim sum: you shouldn't be bringing leftovers home... if you are, then you ordered too much... things will come back around, and if they don't you can always order them later or eat it the next time around, gives you something to look forward to... enjoy yourself and take your time