For many families around the world, the Lunar New Year is one of the most important events of the year — not only is it time for everyone to reunite with each other, but it’s also the day when we should do our best to welcome fortune and good vibes into our lives. Of course, one of the best ways to do so would be to bless all your tastebuds with some lucky and heavenly cuisine.
To maximize prosperity this Year of the Water Tiger, here are some scrumptious must-haves for your CNY feast:
The Golden Dishes
We’re telling you now: From pan-fried potstickers to steamed hakaw, a Chinese New Year celebration is never complete without a plateful of dumplings! Although they come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, dumplings were originally shaped to look like gold ingots, which were used as currency in ancient China. Because of this, they are often served to bring wealth to the household.
Do you know what else looks like gold? Spring rolls. This dim sum favorite is an especially popular dish because it’s crispily fried to the color of wealth! In fact, it’s so commonly served during the holiday that it’s named after it — the Lunar New Year is also known as the Spring Festival!
A whole steamed fish is another mainstay at the CNY dinner table. Like the previous two items on our menu, fish is widely believed to be a symbol of wealth. However, unlike dumplings and spring rolls, its fortune-bringing abilities come from its name rather than its physical appearance. In Mandarin, fish (鱼, yú) sounds the same as surplus (余, yú). By serving fish, you’ll be sure to invite more money and food to your house this year!
Actually, many families also serve their chicken boiled or braised. There is just one thing that we can’t compromise on when serving this dish, and that is to keep the chicken whole. Yes, you must include its head and its feet. This is because a whole chicken is the symbol of a united family. Trust us when we say to stick to tradition: Don’t break apart the chicken!
The Veggie Sides
Whether served separately or thrown together into a stir fry, adding some greens into the meal is also a great way to better increase your family fortune. Seaweed, for example, is another delicious source of wealth. Other lucky veggies to consider are bamboo shoots, leeks, and chives for longevity and poria mushrooms for blessings.
The reason why Chinese New Year is one of the most anticipated days of the year is that it’s a great opportunity for many to spend time with their loved ones. Made of sweet glutinous rice balls stuffed with fillings such as sesame paste, red beans, chocolate, and more, tangyuan are the perfect dessert that encapsulates this heartwarming time because of their shape. According to tradition, their roundness is heavily associated with the concept of family, reunions, and unity.
Here in the Philippines, niangao are most commonly known as tikoy! Its Chinese name niangao (年糕) literally translate to “year cake” but also sounds similar to 年高, which means “to get higher year by year.” Because of this, the glutinous rice dessert is often eaten with the hopes of getting a better income or position.
If you ever feel the need to serve fruits for your CNY feast, oranges are a definite must-have. There is no other fruit that will bring you better fortune, prosperity, and family unity. If the fact they are round and brightly colored is not enough to convince you, a part of their Chinese name 橙 (chéng) also sounds exactly the same as the Chinese word for success (成, chéng). It can’t get any better than that.