(CNN) — Every Friday, Ross Harrington, a car dealership service manager in Melbourne, head to a local lunch shop to pick up a couple of deep-fried dim sims, kicking off his weekend dim sim routine. Harrington is the founder of Dim Sims 4 Lyfe, a Facebook community of about 5,000 dim sim enthusiasts who share their experiences and innovative recipes — dim sims on pizza, for example.
They aren’t alone in their obsession.
Dim sims, or “dummies,” are a variant of the traditional Chinese dumpling. Served in various ways, including steamed and fried, they first gained popularity in the 1940s and have since become an iconic dish in Melbourne and beyond.
So who invented them? Turns out it’s complicated.
Chinese Australian businessman William Chen Wing Young is often credited as being the father of dim sim. Elizabeth Chong, Chen’s daughter, and a well-known Chinese Australian cooking show presenter, tell CNN Travel otherwise. It’s often erroneously recorded that he invented the dim sim and had a Wing Lee restaurant. He did not create the dim sim,” says the 90-year-old celebrity chef. But yes, if it weren’t for my father, the dim sim wouldn’t be what it is. It wouldn’t be an Australian fast-food icon.
The origins of dim sim
Australia’s dim sim story began in 1942 when Chen realized that several elderly Chinese men who had come to Australia to work during the gold rush of the 1800s were left jobless. They were like the leftovers from the goldfields days. They didn’t make it back home to China and were too old for heavy works,” says Chong. At the same time, Chen noticed how popular Cantonese dim sum had become in Australia. (“Dim sum” refers to the whole collection of dumplings and delicacies served with tea. Among the many dim sum dishes, siu Mai — flowerpot-shaped pork and prawn dumpling — was especially popular.