Dim sum all ye faithful (with tofu skin rolls)

Christmas menuGourmandistanis are certainly not the first tribe to discover the joys of eating Chinese food for Christmas. Nor was this year our first indulgence of our Asian inclinations over the holiday (though we’re pretty sure we’ll avoid a blizzard this year). As per a request from Michelle’s lovely sister, we decided to turn our house into a dim sum parlor for Christmas Day lunch this year.

We scoured local markets, ground pork and shrimp and assembled various doughs and spices over numerous days, freezing or refrigerating many types of dim sum from shao mai to turnip cakes to Macanese salt cod fritters. All that was left to do today was to steam, fry, sauté and throw together a variation of this delicious salad.

It was a smashing success. And many stars were awarded by our happy family, especially for these delicious tofu skin rolls.

Tofu skin rolls

Whatever foods you’ve treated yourself to this season, we hope you enjoyed them—though, really, you should think about leaving some room for dim sum next year. Happy Holidays, everyone!


(adapted from this recipe on Serious Eats)

Roll ingredients:

  • 5 oz. fresh shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • Peanut or canola oil
  • 1 tsp. + 1 tsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. + 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • 1/2 lb. ground pork
  • 2 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1-1/2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 2 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1 tsp. minced ginger
  • 1 tsp. sherry
  • Tofu skins (we used 4-1/2 x 5” sheets, labeled “soy sheets”)**
  • 1 small carrot, peeled and julienned
  • Slurry of 1 tsp. cornstarch + 1 TB water for sealing

Sauce ingredients:

  • 1-1/4 c. chicken stock
  • 1 tsp. sherry
  • 1 tsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. oyster sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil


  • 2-3 scallions, white and green parts, chopped

Thinly slice mushroom caps. Sauté in a skillet with a bit of oil until lightly browned. Remove from heat. Stir in 1 teaspoon soy sauce and 1 teaspoon sugar. When cooled, chop half the mushrooms, reserving the other half as slices.

In a medium bowl, mix together ground pork, the chopped mushrooms, 1 teaspoon soy sauce, 1/2 teaspoon sugar, sesame oil, cornstarch, garlic, ginger and sherry.  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Place a tofu sheet on a work surface. Spread a generous tablespoon of pork filling formed into a cylinder shape near the bottom of the sheet, leaving a small space on each side. Arrange some sliced mushrooms and carrot slivers over the pork filling.

Brush the top edge of the sheet with the cornstarch/water slurry. Roll up the skins. It is not necessary to fold in the edges. Repeat with remaining tofu sheets and filling.

Put a film of oil in a nonstick skillet. Fry the rolls in batches, turning until browned on all sides.

Transfer rolls to shallow bowls or dishes that will fit in a steamer. The rolls should be in a single layer.

Mix all sauce ingredients together in a small saucepan.  Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring, until sauce just begins to thicken.

Pour sauce over rolls. Sprinkle half of the scallions on top and cook in a steamer for about 10 minutes, until meat filling is done.

Top with remaining scallions before serving.

**We’ve had all sorts of trouble finding tofu skin sheets at our local Asian markets. So much so that we tried making them ourselves. However delicious they were, the homemade version was just too delicate to use for this recipe. Finally, we found some in a market’s freezer case. The sheets we used were hydrated (“thoroughly blanched and individually quick frozen” said the friendly folks from Wei-Chuan Food Corporation). If yours are dry, immerse one at a time in water for a minute or so until softened. Then stack, separating each sheet with a paper towel. Or, if you have the giant, dry type (which we’re on the lookout for), see the tips from Attempts in Domesticity.


  1. I´m sorry wordpress doesn´t allow to press that star button more than once per post , so I have to put it in words: likelikelike! Wishing you wonderful holidays, Michelle and Steve…!

  2. Best post title of the year. You guys are INSANE. I would make dim sum more often if it wasn’t so involved! (And I’m a not-shy-away-from-involved kinda guy.) I just buy it premade and put it in the freezer, since I can’t really beat the Chinese. I do think, sometimes, it would be fun to have one of those carts to push around the house. I wonder what they run? Merry Xmas!

  3. This is my sort of christmas dinner! We has a hybrid Japanese/French meal for Christmas dinner, but I looove Yum Cha and have a favourite local restaurant we frequent. That’s frequent which ever way you want to interpret it. I can’t compete with the wonderful range of dim sum they serve, but I’m tempted to try your rolled tofu skins, they sound delicious! Happy holidays to you both, i love reading your blog!

  4. This looks divine! And I was just telling Henry about friends of mine who have an annual tradition of eating Chinese food on Christmas. This dim sum looks great to me. Will have to try it out between now and new year. xo

  5. Love this!! Turning your house into a dim sum parlor is the most amazing idea for Christmas, I may need to steal it — though I don’t know if I’d have the patience to make so many different options. You guys are a force to be reckoned with! This year we went full-on traditional with a rib roast, & potato gratin because we were with my family, but some of my favorite holiday meals have been just me, my husband and a platter of pork belly steamed buns. After seeing your pictures I’m seriously craving bean curd rolls — think that will be my New Years day project!

    • It was fun. We usually do try to have lots of dim sum around. It’s labor-intensive, obviously, but most things freeze beautifully and they’re great to take out on days (like today!) when one of us is out of town and the other just can’t be bothered to cook a real meal. Oh, but your traditional meal sounds great, too! We’ve been known to do all sorts of crazy stuff at holidays (once we had a “French Thanksgiving” which has a lot less precedent than Chinese Christmas!), but this year our Thanksgiving was straight up Southern traditional. And I have to say: It was good! Happy new year!

  6. If I was traveling to the land of Gourmandistan, this would be my “must try” for a gourmet feast. Outstanding array of food…four stars for sure! Happy New Year. 🙂

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