The term Dim Sim dates back to the late 1920s, but the classic recipe we know and love today is thought to have been developed in Melbourne’s Chinatown toward the end of World War 2.
Along with the Chiko Roll, the Dim Sim is engrained in Australia’s culture.
But what is it about these minced meat, and cabbage morsels that attracts the attention of so many?
We tracked down a true Dim Sim connoisseur, Ross, who runs Australia’s largest Facebook group dedicated to the humble Dim Sim—Dim Sims 4 Lyfe.
TUL: First up, fried or steamed?
Ross: I prefer steamed but I’ve been caught out a few times by the odd raw dimmie, so I often go fried then I know they’re 100% cooked
TUL: What drove you to start Dim Sims 4 Lyfe?
Ross: I’d been starting to grab a couple of dimmies mid-afternoon at work with a few of the guys and it really boosted morale. I thought I should share this with the world.
TUL: What can people expect once they join Dim Sims 4 Lyfe?
Ross: Firstly, they will be welcomed with open arms. The focus is posting up pictures of your dim sim adventures, good, bad, or indifferent. It’s a safe place to share a little snippet of your life with the world without bombarding them with your every move.
To date we’ve managed a post from a member as far away as Las Vegas. People are starting to recognize fellow members on the streets and greet each other with the fist salute. I’ve had people tell me that they’ve joined Facebook just so they can join DS4L.
The next phase will probably be to flex our membership with some networking between members, maybe we’ll call it LinkedDim.
TUL: How many Dim Sims do you reckon you’ve consumed over the journey?
Ross: My dim sim week starts on Fry Day and ends on Sunday. It starts off at lunchtime with local lunch shop fare followed by a fish and chip shop frenzy if I’m stuck late at work.
Saturday and Sunday mainly consist of local footy club grub, either served in paper bags or paper cups. To me it’s not really about how many you eat—they’re not racehorses and we’re not in a horse race. It’s all about just living the lyfe.
TUL: It’s like naming your favourite child, but where are the best Dim Sims in Melbourne?
Ross: I’m really only scratching the surface of what’s available. Sth Melb dimmies are a favourite (served from the market), Harry Hoo’s do a nice dimmie and they serve them with fresh chilli, coriander and lemon juice which tastes amazing.
Finally, I’ll never knock back a fried Marathon with plenty of salt, even if only out of respect for what they have done for the people of Melbourne for so many years.
TUL: Let’s talk about barbequed Dim Sims, are you a fan?
Ross: I love a BBQ and love dimmies so yes! One of the comrades in the group put me onto a secret marinade he’d developed, it's honey, soy sauce, chilli, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper.
He cuts the dimmies into thirds and marinades them overnight. I guess it’s not a secret anymore.
TUL: Wikipedia states that alternative names can be ‘Dimmie’, ‘Dimrock’, or ‘Dimmo’. Are any names other than ‘Dimmie’ acceptable?
Ross: I think coming up with lots of different names for something so simple just over-complicates things. But I have also heard them being referred to as ‘cat coffins’ and ‘cat sacks’.
TUL: Any Dim Sim hacks we should know about?
Ross: I’ve developed a few hacks. You roll a dimmie in bacon and then BBQ it, I call this the ‘Cat in a Blanket’. My other is to take a Vietnamese pork roll (Bahn Mi) and exchange the pork for a cut in half fried dimmie, I call this the ‘Bahn Meow’.
TUL: Best condiment to pair with a Dim Sim?
Ross: On a steamed dimmie I love soy sauce with a dob of sriracha sauce to kick it up a bit. A friend has suggested I try black vinegar, so that’ll be next cab off the rank.
TUL: Fresh, or straight from the bain-marie?
Ross: I like fresh (so long as they’re 100% cooked) but the rock hard bain-marie ones have come in handy when there has been a tuck shop scuffle. You just bang a couple of dimmies in a sock and then empty out the shop gladiator style.
TUL: Every tried to cook them from scratch at home?
Ross: I’ve cooked them at home from scratch a few times from a recipe I found in Better Homes and Gardens. They were sort of dumpling shaped but they were bloody beautiful.
If you’re keen to join Dim Sims 4 Lyfe, you can find the group and apply for membership right here.
We hope this has been enlightening.
Want to grab the Dim Sims—or the other delicious things they have—pictured in the header image? Head to The Pie Shop in Brunswick East.
Image credit: The Pie Shop | Jenna Fahey-White