If you Google “how to make dim sum,” more than 12,000,000 entries will pop up. Some of the virtual lessons seem pretty easy to digest. Others offer some intricate steps that prove a bit of a mouthful. Of course, we didn’t have the time to click through all of the how-tos. Truthfully, there wasn’t much of a need, seeing as how we knew we would be able to ask whatever we wanted about the bite-sized cuisine from chef Yip Wing Wah, The Peninsula Hotels’ longtime dim sum ambassador. Chef Yip, who’s usually positioned at The Peninsula Hong Kong’s Spring Moon restaurant, recently made the trip over to the brand’s Chicago outpost, giving dim sum lovers in the States a chance to see a genuine pastry magician at work — quite the step up from those YouTube home cooks. Forbes Travel Guide caught up with Yip during his travels. And though we needed a translator to communicate for our quick chat, the chef’s love for Asian cooking (and American crustaceans!) resonates in any language.
Chef Yip, when did you first fall in love with cooking?
When I was 14 in 1966.
What are the earliest memories you have of eating and making dim sum?
Har gow (shrimp dumpling).
Lots of people around the world make dim sum. What separates a decent order of it from a truly special order?
How to make use of the selected ingredients and the sequence of putting those ingredients together.
What are the key ingredients or techniques people should use when making dim sum at home?
Choose some simple ingredients, shape in a simple pattern and use a simple cooking method, such as steam, for the first time. Then, increase the challenge by using different cooking methods such as baking and deep-frying.
You have had a great relationship with The Peninsula Hotels for years. What makes your partnership with the hotel chain so successful?
Guide and trust. We guide each other and trust each other. The Peninsula Hotels gave me a lot of space to work in my own style.
In all of your travels, can you name the cities or restaurants where you have had the best dim sum prepared by someone else?
Difficult to say, but I experienced some creative dim sum in different cities.
Westerners in Chicago, New York and everywhere else in the U.S. love Asian cuisine. What are your favorite “American” foods?
Photo Courtesy of The Peninsula