How Dim Sims were invented
Last Sunday was the official end of Chinese New Year Celebrations for 2017.
I had the absolute pleasure of interviewing Elizabeth Chong on the show this week and it was delightful to hear her story and that of her father William – who can be credited with introducing Aussies to the Dim Sim, now a staple at every Chinese restaurant and fish and chip shop in the country!
In the 1930’s William Chen Wing Young immigrated to Australia with his young family including 3 year old Elizabeth, one of six children.
Elizabeth explained to us that ‘dim sum’ – translated as ‘little morsels that dot the heart’ – is enjoyed in restaurants around Asia. William Young refashioned one of the favourite dim sum items – the dim sim – for the Australian appetite, making it bigger.
Elizabeth’s older brother Tom one day was taking a box of dim sims to a Chinese business in Cheltenham, VIC, but the weather was fine and he decided to go out fishing with his Greek friend Joe in Mordialloc instead. Joe owned a fish-and-chip shop, and Tom gave him the box of dim sims. The shop didn’t have a steamer, so they dropped the dim sims in the basket and deep-fried them. Joe rang up a few days later and said his mates all loved them. Soon every fish-and-chip shop in Melbourne wanted to sell dim sims.
During World War II, the family’s dim sims were rolled out to workers making weaponry and uniforms for the war. “His dim sims were sold to the munitions workers as part of the war effort. During the war years there was less meat in them, and more cabbage and celery.”
Her father’s chicken rolls were on sold to a local manufacturer who removed the chicken and voila! The Chiko roll was born!
Elizabeth’s father had invested in plantations in Queensland, and went on to become the owner of one of the largest wholesale fruit businesses at the Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne.
Elizabeth’s media career took off on Channel 10 with a cooking segment on Good Morning Melbourne. She worked on Good Morning Australia which continued for more than 15 years.
At 86, she likes to unwinds at her holiday retreat on Victoria’s Bass Coast but she is nowhere near ready to put the wok away and still loves cooking and sharing her families recipes with others..
Listen to the Podcast with Elizabeth here