Posted in Equipment

Equipment: Dim Sum Plate Lifter

I have been burning my fingers trying to lift Dim Sum dishes out of bamboo steamers for longer than I care to remember. The old expedient of using a cloth, or oven mitts, is not very effective in the cramped confines of most baskets, and I often find that I end up dipping the edges of cloths into the food. I happened to see a plate lifter designed especially for this task when I was surfing the Internet one day and, on a trip to Montreal’s Chinatown this spring, I kept my eye out for one…

Well, I located one, as you can see but as with many of my purchases on trips down south, I promptly forgot about it after arriving home and it ended up languishing on a storage shelf until I got around to finally opening it the other day. It actually looks almost exactly like a similar device we use for lifting jars out of a pressure canner but those are far too big and wieldy for manipulating the sort of delicate tableware used for serving Dim Sum.

I decided to test the lifter using a selection of the dishes I most commonly use for Dim Sum snacks.

The device worked quite well for the fairly heavy bowl you see in the picture above. I should note that, in fact, I actually dropped the bowl but I was fiddling with the camera at the time and not paying attention so that little accident can’t be blamed on the lifter.

These square dishes were a breeze to lift. The jaws of the lifter grabbed it very nicely and I could probably have swung it back and forth without it slipping from the grasp. Of course, had I done that, sauce would have sloshed out all over the place so I omitted that particular experiment.

These smaller bowls were a little trickier. I didn’t come close to dropping it but it felt as though the grip was just a little precarious.

The Verdict

This product did was it was designed to do acceptable well. It is not he sort of indispensible item that no kitchen can do without, but for the five or six dollars I spent on it, I thought it money well spent. If you are constantly burning your fingers under similar circumstances then I would definitely recommend this item to you.

Oh, by the way… It occurred to me as I was doing this piece that I really didn’t need to actually cook anything for the demonstration; I could just as easily have filled the dishes with dried beans, or something. Still, I got to test my new product and also enjoy a nice little meal as part of the bargain.

If you are interested, the dish I cooked consisted of spareribs that were dusted in flour, coated with Lee Kum Kee Chili Black Bean Sauce and then steamed on a bed of sliced onion. I also poured over a little rice wine diluted with water to make a little bit of sauce and the ribs, I have to say, turned out very nicely indeed.


I am a lawyer by profession and my practice is Criminal... I mean, I specialize in Criminal law. My work involves travelling on Court circuits to remote Arctic communities. In between my travels I write a Food blog at

17 thoughts on “Equipment: Dim Sum Plate Lifter

  1. The tool can also lift big plate, e.g from the wok after steaming a fish, or shrimps. The spare rib sauce…I can also testify that it is very popular among Asians. I will use the same sauce for spare ribs with bitter melon. You are so good in making Asian dishes! Good job!

  2. I don’t have such a tool but great, that it works for you. Yes, I use a moist dishcloth to lift out a steaming dish from a pot…

    By the way, it’s not just for dim sum, but for any steamed food dish….ie. steamed savoury egg custard, a homespun Chinese/Japanese dish,etc

    1. True … I usually don’t have a problem with large deep dishes but the small shallow ones commonly used for dim sum are sometimes difficult, particularly when you have several in the steamer, and that’s my main use for this (so far anyway).

  3. If there is on kitchen tool that is of the ut-most importance, it is most definitely this one. I know how you feel with the bamboo steamer, whenever I’m steaming some steamed pork or vegetable buns or dumplings, the fingertips and palms are always the ones to get the worst end. But I’m always happy to see the new posts, most definitely one of my must-read blogs!

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