Chinese New Year Dishes
By Laura Young
Don't know what types of foods are served for a traditional Chinese New Year's Eve dinner? Lost about what recipes will give you good luck when served on Chinese New Year's Day?
New Year's Eve Dinner
Chinese New Year is a time when the family should come together in order to give thanks for the year that has past, and reinvigorate themselves for the coming year. Says Young, "no matter what happened to you in the previous year it's a brand new slate." Accordingly, Chinese New Year's Eve dinner is "the most luxurious meal of the entire year," Young explains.
It is typical for a Chinese family to make eight to nine dishes for the New Year's Eve dinner. The reason for this is because in the Chinese dialect of Cantonese the word for eight is baat, which rhymes with faat, the word for prosperity, says Young. The Chinese word for "nine" means "long-lasting."
Listed below are some foods you can find at a typical dinner. In parenthesis Young explains the symbolism behind the food.
- A whole chicken, including head and feet (It symbolizes a proper beginning and end to the year.)
- Clams or scallops (Their shape is similar to ancient Chinese coins.)
- Any dish featuring lettuce (The word for lettuce, saang choy, sounds like the word for "growing good fortunes.")
- Lobster (It represents life and energy.)
- Rice (It symbolizes well-being and good fortune.)
- Spring rolls (Their shape is reminiscent of ancient Chinese money, which would represent wealth for the coming year.)
- Dumplings (Also shaped like ancient Chinese coins. Some families choose to cook dumplings late at night, through the midnight hour to symbolize bringing prosperity and luck into the new year. )
- Fish with its head and tail intact ('Fish' in Chinese is yu, which sounds like the word for wish. Also fish swim in pairs, so it represents marital bliss. The fish is served as the last course, and not all of it is eaten so there are leftovers to eat on New Year's Day. By doing this, families bring prosperity of the previous year into the new year.)
Read on to find out which foods you should serve on New Year's Day.