Food is a significant factor in the Chinese New Year celebrations. Not only do the dishes themselves matter, but also the preparation and ways of serving and eating mean a lot. Certain dishes are eaten for their symbolic meaning – usually an association with good luck. You can join the celebrations and eat your way to good luck by phoning the local take out or you can get in the kitchen and make your own special food for Chinese New Year.
1. Nián Gāo
Glutinous rice cakes are a popular food at Chinese New Year because the second word also sounds like the word "higher" in Chinese. It is thought to be a lucky food as eating cake would help you achieve a higher status or prosperity
Spring rolls are named because they represent the season. A major part of the Spring Festival they also represent new life in the Chinese New Year celebrations.
Fish dishes are in abundance for Chinese New Year. The Chinese for “catfish niányú sounds like nián yú which means ‘year surplus'. So eating catfish is a wish for a surplus in the coming year.
Dumplings are a classic Chinese food with a history of more than 1800 years. A traditional dish eaten on Chinese New Year's Eve.
These sweet rice balls are favored by Chinese during the New Year celebrations because the pronunciation and round shape are associated with reunion and being together.
6. Tangerine Beef
Tangerines are one of the main fruits to make an appearance. They're considered good luck because the word for tangerine sounds like the word for lucky or auspicious.
7. Luo Bo Gao
These savory daikon radish cakes are delicious fried in slices and dipped in hot sauce.
8. Jee-yoo or Lee-yoo
The Chinese like to eat two types of carp – crucian carp and mud carp. Their names in Chinese sound like good luck and gifts so they naturally have a place at the festive table.
9. Chángshòu Miàn
Longevity noodles are longer than normal noodles and uncut, either fried and served on a plate, or boiled and served in a bowl with their broth. Unsurprisingly symbolize a wish for longevity.
10. San Choy Bow
Stuffed lettuce cups are a favorite on a table that is heaving with symbolic dishes. The word for lettuce cup sounds like the word for making money.
Buddha’s Delight is a vegetarian stew traditionally served on the first day of the Chinese New Year to bring good luck.
12. Chinese Delight
These chewy walnut and date confections are eaten in the hope that family bonds will remain as strong as the sweet, sticky candies.
13. Changnian Cai
Mustard greens are a standard vegetable dish for the celebration. They are commonly known as jie cai, but in the context of the new year, they are labeled as chang nian cai which translates to perennial vegetables, symbolizing longevity.
14. Roast Chicken
The chicken should be served whole with the head and the feet still attached. This connotes unity and a good marriage between families. This can be done with other poultry/game birds.
15. The Tray of Togetherness
The eight (a traditionally symbolic lucky number) compartments of the tray are filled with things such as preserved kumquats and red dates for prosperity, coconut for togetherness, longans to bring many sons, peanuts for longevity and red melon seeds for happiness. Put out for visiting relatives to snack on, or given as a gift.
I hope these Chinese New Year recipes bring you and your taste buds good fortune.