To anyone who thought that steamed dim sum might be healthy, be prepared for a rude awakening. It turns out that steamed dim sum like har gow, siew mai and crystal buns are only marginally better, in terms of fat content, than their deep-fried counterparts, like spring rolls and dumplings.

The foodie in your head is screaming foul. So’s mine. How could that be? They’re… steamed!

Well, I have the proof in numbers from the Health Promotion Board of Singapore. If you eat just one piece – not one basketful – of each of the following steamed dim sum, you’d have consumed more fat, sodium and cholesterol than if you scarfed three fried roti pratas.

What about other nutrients? The dim sum below offers only slightly more – by that I mean a couple of grams – protein and fibre than prata. Disappointing. One of the reasons for this is the quality of meat used – fatty cuts make the dim sum more savoury and succulent.


ALSO READ: Singapore Recipe: Steamed Yam Cake


The detailed data is below, if you want to take a look. I’m not giving up dim sum just yet, but I won’t be lying to myself the next time I have Sunday brunch at Wah Lok with my folks. My advice: Go for the best to make it worth your while. Or as local food blogger, Dr Leslie Tay, who’s also on Shape’s advisory board, would say: Never waste calories on yucky food. True that.


Chives and minced prawn dumpling 


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Calories (kcal): 48
Protein (g): 3
Fat (g): 2 
Fibre (g): 0.8
Cholesterol (mg): 10
Sodium (mg): 164


Pork dumpling with crab roe

Calories (kcal): 44
Protein (g): 2
Fat (g): 3
Fibre (g): 0.4 
Cholesterol (mg): 8 
Sodium (mg): 94


Har gow


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Calories (kcal): 27
Protein (g): 1
Fat (g): 1
Fibre (g): 0.4 
Cholesterol (mg): 5 
Sodium (mg): 74  


ALSO READ: Recipe: Crispy, juicy prawn rolls in beancurd skin


Turnip cake


Calories (kcal): 66
Protein (g): 1
Fat (g): 2
Fibre (g): 1.2 
Cholesterol (mg): 2 
Sodium (mg): 196

Siew mai


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Calories (kcal): 81
Protein (g): 3
Fat (g): 6
Fibre (g): 0.6
Cholesterol (mg): 16 
Sodium (mg): 48 


Yam cake


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Calories (kcal): 193
Protein (g): 3
Fat (g): 3
Fibre (g): 1.3
Cholesterol (mg): 3 
Sodium (mg): 580


Shanghainese minced pork and chives dumpling

Calories (kcal): 69
Protein (g): 3
Fat (g): 4
Fibre (g): 0.5 
Cholesterol (mg): 13 
Sodium (mg): 97


Crystal bun (Turnip and carrot filling)


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Calories (kcal): 59
Protein (g): 1
Fat (g): 2
Fibre (g): 1 
Cholesterol (mg): 5
Sodium (mg): 172


Total Dim Sum vs 3 pieces of Roti Prata


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Calories (kcal): 587 vs 627
Protein (g): 17 vs 15
Fat (g): 23 vs 21
Fibre (g): 6.2 vs 5.1
Cholesterol (mg): 62 vs 3
Sodium (mg): 1,425 vs 1,158



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