Each year families around the world gather to celebrate Chinese New Year and the new life and prosperity that it brings. The festivities begin with New Year’s Eve or reunion dinner when dumplings and fish are served to bring prosperity.
As families celebrate the New Year, children are given red packets filled with money for good luck. Many cities with large Asian populations host a parade featuring a lion dance and beautifully decorated dragons. Chinese New Year celebrations conclude with the Lantern Festival, where red lanterns symbolizing good fortune are displayed.
Throughout this 15-day festival special dishes are prepared and enjoyed to symbolize good luck, wealth, and prosperity. Each family selects and prepares their favorite New Year dishes with their own special twist.
Keep reading to learn about the delicious dishes you can serve to your family to bring prosperity and good luck as you gather to celebrate Chinese New Year.
1. Jiaozi - Chinese Dumplings These boiled dumplings are quick and easy for the family to make together. Jiaozi are filled with ground pork or beef and classic Chinese vegetables, such as cabbage and spring onion. Their crescent shape resembles Chinese money and symbolizes wealth and prosperity.
2. Spring Rolls - Filled with peanuts, bean sprouts, and vegetables and surrounded by a light and crispy wrapper. Frying gives spring rolls a golden color to symbolize wealth.
3. Lettuce Wraps - The word for lettuce sounds like the word for good fortune making this a food to bring good luck in the New Year. Lettuce wraps are often filled with foods that bring good luck as well, such as chicken, spring onions and water chestnuts.
4. Tea Eggs - During Chinese New Year, eggs are eaten to symbolize and bless families with fertility. After boiling, tea eggs are a deep brown color and are flavored with soy sauce, delicate black tea leaves, and aromatic spices.
5. Chinese New Year Noodles (Longevity Noodles) - Noodles are a staple of the Chinese diet and the base of many classic Chinese dishes. During New Year celebrations, noodles are served uncut to represent long life. New Year Noodles are prepared with a pungent and tangy sauce and served with marinated and stir-fried vegetables, bean curd, and bamboo shoots.
6. Whole Fish with Black Bean Sauce - Whole fish is traditionally served on New Year’s Eve at the family reunion meal. Half of the fish is eaten during this meal and the other half is saved for later. Whole fish represents abundance and plenty and is served without removing the head and tail. In Whole Fish with Black Bean Sauce, the fish is rubbed with a sauce of black beans, garlic, ginger, and pepper flakes and then dredged in a mixture of flour and cornstarch before frying until golden and crisp. It is served with a spicy red pepper dipping sauce.
7. Baked Chinese New Year Pudding - This Chinese New Year dessert is flavored with coconut to represent togetherness. Glutinous rice flour gives Chinese New Year Pudding a light and delicate texture.
8. Sweet and Sour Pork - Cubed pork tenderloin is marinated, dipped in batter, and fried until golden and crisp. A rich and tangy sauce serves as the base of Sweet and Sour Pork. Pork symbolizes peace and abundance. Eating Sweet and Sour Pork during New Year celebrations is believed to bring a family many grandchildren.
9. Broiled Ginger Chicken - Chicken is marinated in a flavorful sauce of lemon, garlic, and cilantro. Then, the chicken is broiled until tender and golden and the skin is crispy and delicious. Eating chicken at New Year celebrations is thought to bring a year full of happiness.
10. Chinese New Year’s Cake (Sticky Cake) - This rich and deeply flavored cake is full of dates, peen tong (Chinese brown slab candy), and sesame seeds. New Year’s Cake is steamed and has a sticky texture. This cake brings a year of richness and plenty.
11. Buddha’s Delight - This vegetarian dish is traditionally served on the first day of the new year and thought to purify and cleanse the body. Buddha’s Delight honors the Buddhist tradition that no living creature should be killed on the first day of the new year. This dish is packed with mushrooms and fungus for a rich and “meaty” flavor. Many of the ingredients in Buddha’s Delight represent long life, prosperity, and good fortune.
12. Salt and Pepper Shrimp - Chinese tradition points to shrimp as bringing good luck and happiness. In this New Year’s dish, shrimp with their shells intact are coated in tapioca starch and deep fried until they turn a beautiful, bright orange color and then stir fried in a salt and pepper mixture.
13. Stir-Fry Beef with Three Vegetables - In this dish, thinly sliced flank steak is marinated and then stir-fried with vegetables and a rich, sweet, and tangy sauce. The number three of the three vegetables in this dish represents wealth and the mushrooms symbolize long life. Stir-fry Beef with Three Vegetables is often served along with rice.
14. Litchi Five Spice Ice Cream - This popular New Year dessert made with litchi syrup has a sweet, but delicate, flavor. Eating litchi fruit is believed to bring family togetherness.