Eight lucky foods inspired by Lunar New Year
Lunar New Year is about to roll around again, so we’re here to inspire your culinary plans this January with some traditional LNY fare. One of the greatest joys of celebrating the Lunar New Year feast on the eve of the holiday. In Chinese culture, favourite foods and superstitions collide, with special dishes served up to help bring good luck for the new year.
The symbolism of these traditional Lunar New Year foods is incredibly important, as are the methods of prepping, serving and eating them.
A whole fish is a staple for Lunar New Year celebrations, and is said to usher in prosperity for the entire year. Fun fact: in Mandarin, the word for surplus is actually a homophone of fish. In Chinese culture, many people aim for a surplus of money each year and believe including fish-based dishes in their feasts will welcome this.
A whole chicken is usually served to guests during a Lunar New Year feast to represent family togetherness. As chicken is high in protein, some believe that chicken during the new year also represents rebirth. Like the fish, the chicken should be served in its entirety, with the head and feet intact.
Dumplings are said to signify wealth due to the close appearance of Chinese gold ingots (an oval, boat shaped hunk of gold used as currency in imperial China). Typically, Chinese families will wrap dumplings from Lunar New Year Eve until midnight to signify leaving the previous year behind.
Spring rolls were initially created to combine all the spring season’s freshest vegetables, however now it is common in Chinese culture for them to include pork or prawns. Like dumplings, spring rolls are said to attract good fortune because of their close resemblance to gold bars.
Very long noodles, called chángshòu miàn, are said to represent a long life. It’s customary to slurp the noodle (no chewing!) so that the strands aren’t severed. These are also often brought out to celebrate birthdays as a lucky token to bring longevity.
Niangao (Rice cake)
Niangao is the star of the dessert spread during Lunar New Year celebrations. The word for rice cake is a homophone for the word tall or ‘to grow’. So it makes perfect sense to eat this at New Year’s as it symbolises growth whether that be in career, money, health, or even physical height!
During Lunar New Year, there is significance in eating certain round foods, which is said to encourage family unity. Oranges and mandarins are especially popular, because their golden colour is said to attract wealth. Another homophone alert: the word for orange is also a homophone for success.
Tangyuan (Sweet rice balls)
A delicacy that is generally eaten on the 15th day after the new year, these sweet round dumplings are made from flour rice. Sweet rice balls are usually served in a bowl of warm, sweet soup. The word for Tangyuan is a homophone for reunion or togetherness. What better symbolism for unity for the year to come?
Are you excited to create your Lunar New Year feast? We have you covered with three inspiring dishes here.