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DIm Sum Without Soy

We have a friend who likes dim sum (both gastronomically and socially) but has developed a medical condition where she has to avoid soy products. Can anyone here suggest a half-dozen or so dim sum items with no soy? (For example, Har Gow would be one possibility. The rice noodle rolls--if we can stop the waiter from pouring sauce over them!--might be another.)

Are there more?

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      1. re: fourunder

        fourunder makes a really good point. There are so many things in dumplings that one wouldn't think of. For instance, there's lots of dried shrimp in non-fishy things. I'd be very careful with dim sum generally if I had allergies.

          1. re: eleeper

            Then your query is best answered by the place you end up at....only they can know the actual recipe and ingredients in the fillings of their dim sum. Even if you name a place, the people on this board may think they know....but i guarantee you they do not.

            1. re: fourunder

              And if there's a language barrier, then all bets are off.

        1. To soy? Or the gluten in soy?

          1 Reply
          1. Sounds like a dangerous place for your friend to tread.
            As said already many fillings have small amounts of light Soy that would not be noticeable by color.
            Also if Soy Oil is a problem it add a whole lot more uncertainty.

            7 Replies
            1. re: chefj

              I just spot checked a few rice flour roll recipes in Andrea Nguyen's Asian Dumplings and a couple of them have soy sauce in the filling itself, not just the sauce. The Har Gow recipe of hers doesn't have soy but it has pork fat. That's not applicable in this case but the point is that there are surprising ingredients in dim sum and Chinese food in general. Also, while a cookbook may not include certain things, that doesn't mean the restaurant itself doesn't. As you say, "dangerous place."

              1. re: c oliver

                While Andrea Nguyen may not call for Soy in Har Gow (蝦餃) all of my traditional Canton Recipes do. Just to say that one recipe does not really predict the most common preparation.

                1. re: chefj

                  I'm not disagreeing with you at all. As has been said, Chinese food can have many different things in it that you might not ever know about.

                  1. re: c oliver

                    I not defending either. just pointing out that even the same dish may or may not have Soy depending on who's cooking.

                    1. re: chefj

                      And even if every printed recipe shows a certain ingredient or not, that doesn't mean that a particular restaurant doesn't include or exclude. And unless OP or friend speaks Cantonese, they're unlikely to be able to get accurate/safe info.

              2. I don't have any soy sauce health issues other than I don't really like it as a condiment. Dim sum is my favorite treat, however, and I've noticed at our usual place that the dishes we get are fairly sodium-deprived. I ask for hot mustard, and have considered bringing a little salt box with me, but so far I've forgotten to do that. Maybe I'll remember tomorrow.

                1. I think Chinese food would be the biggest culinary minefield for someone who has to avoid soy.

                  1. Define dim sum, gastronomically.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: ipsedixit

                      "Hello. My friend and I would like to have Dim Sum here at your busy restaurant. We were wondering if you would list each of the ingredients you put into each of your Dim Sum dishes. You see she can't eat anything with soy in it. We'll wait. If you would print it out for us we'll be able to tell the servers which dishes we want off the carts. If there's dish with just a couple of soy products you can tell the cooks not to put the soy in them for us.
                      You should think about offering a whole dim sum menu without any soy products in the dishes for when people like my friend show up".

                      1. re: Puffin3

                        Well, no, I'm not going to do this. That's why I was hoping for at least some suggestions as to soy-less or mostly soy-less stuff. (For example, rice also has phytoestrogens, but in much smaller quantities so can be eaten within reason. Similarly, small quantities of soy are permissible--at least in this case--but not the amount one finds in a tofu dish, or a dish with a heavily soy-based sauce.)

                        Like I said, Har Gow and Har Cheong Fun are probably okay, and congee and desserts are a good suggestion.

                        1. re: eleeper

                          Nowadays, depending on where you go and where you are (neither of which I know anything about), dim sum can be just the traditional items you mention, or many many other things -- from braised abalone, to roast duck, to sweet and savory pastries, etc.

                          As others have said, if there is a soy issue of any kind, your best bet is to either avoid Chinese entirely, or to be very specific with the kitchen about what ingredients they are and are not using.

                          As an aside, how do you know Har Gow is ok? Many people use soy to marinate/season the shrimp filling (like this one http://rasamalaysia.com/shrimp-dumpli...). And, honestly, eating rice noodle sheets without the oyster/soy sauce is kind of pointless.

                          I don't mean this to be condescending (and I hope you don't take it that way), but I don't want you to start down a Sisyphean path without forewarning...

                    2. As others have said, this is a tricky one. I personally would assume that soy is in everything, at least in small quantities (a quick search easily turns up Har Gow recipes which use soy).

                      If language is not an issue, I would phone up the restaurant in advance, and discuss it with them. Keep in mind that soy can show up as a secondary ingredient in things like hoisin sauce.

                      I suspect that traditional dim sum will be very difficult to get customized - the fast pace and need for prep work will make it unlikely that the kitchen staff will make and track special soy free items.

                      If small amounts are okay, then you might get by with avoiding anything that contains tofu or has a heavy sauce. It depends a lot on your friends' tolerance.

                      In my experience, a *lot* of dim sum item recipes use soy in quantities of a few tablespoons for on order of about 20 items. So I'd estimate that 10 dumplings or other items without heavy sauce = 1 T of soy, and go from there.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                        I'm generalizing now. IMO literally any Dim Sum restaurant on the planet will, when you phone them to discuss your 'special needs' visa vi arranging for them the make 'special order' dishes without soy products will have the same reaction: CLICK!
                        You chosen the wrong type of cuisine/culture to believe you can request what's in their dishes or 'special order' them.
                        Unless you are reserving the entire restaurant for four hundred 'non-soy' people and your last name is Clinton. LOL
                        "Excuse m Mrs. Lee. Do your dim sum dishes have a lot soy in them?" Mrs. Lee: Do you want them too?" "No I don't want too much soy products in the dishes". Mrs. Lee: "Not too much. Not too much".