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16+ Lunar and Chinese New Year Recipes

by Jeanette on January 25, 2014 · 9 Comments
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Today, I’ve got a collection of Lunar and Chinese New Year Recipes in celebration of the Year of the Horse. These Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese recipes all contain auspicious ingredients to start the new year off right.

16 Lunar and Chinese New Year Recipes © Jeanette's Healthy Living

January 31, 2014 marks the start of the Lunar New Year or Chinese New Year and this year we’re celebrating the Year of the Horse. According to Chinese astrology, people born in the Year of the Horse are popular and cheerful, independent, quick and artful. If you were born in 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, or some increment of 12, you are a horse.

Although I was born in the U.S., my parents are immigrants of China, so I try to instill a little bit of Chinese tradition in my kids, including Chinese New Year. When my mother and father-in-law were alive, my boys would perform the traditional triple bow before receiving their  “hung bao” (red packets of money that children receive from adults). Kids will do just about anything for money, but I was happy they humored me and honored tradition which meant a lot to their grandparents.

The Lunar New Year is celebrated by the Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Mongolians, Tibetans, and Vietnamese. Interestingly, as I recently discovered, Thai, Burmese, Cambodian, and Laotian folks celebrate their New Year in April.

In the Chinese culture, Chinese New Year is the biggest holiday of the year. In fact, it is celebrated for fifteen days, starting with the new moon on the first day of the first lunar month (of the year according to the lunar calendar) and ending fifteen days later when there is a full moon,  culminating with the Lantern Festival.

There are lots of traditions leading up to Chinese New Year include cleaning the house thoroughly to sweep away any bad luck, getting haircuts, and paying off debts to start the New Year fresh,  and decorating the house with red paper cutouts of Chinese auspicious phrases and couplets with themes of good fortune, happiness, wealth and longevity.

Some foods are selected because they sound like another word that means prosperity, luck, wealth or good fortune. Other foods are served because they resemble money or gold. A traditional Chinese New Year dinner might include a whole chicken (family unity), a whole fish (surplus), duck (happiness), lobster (life and energy), Buddha’s Delight (a vegetarian dish made with symbolic ingredients), shrimp (wealth and abundance), oysters (good fortune), scallops (shaped like ancient coins), tea eggs (fertility), noodles (longevity), jiao-tze or dumplings (shaped like old coins), and spring rolls (resemble gold bricks). Tangerines, oranges and pomelos are given out for good luck and abundance.

Here are some of the symbolic foods you might find during the Lunar New Year or Chinese New Year:

Chicken  - prosperity, togetherness as a family (traditionally, a whole chicken is cooked)

Chinese Braised Chicken with Chestnuts or Vietnamese Stir-Fry Lemongrass Chicken

Chinese Chestnut Chicken

Walnuts – happiness of the entire family

Stir-Fry Spicy Kung Pao Chicken with Walnuts

Kung Pao Chicken with Walnuts

Lettuce – wealth and riches

Korean Lettuce Wraps

Korean Lettuce Wraps

Fish – surplus, prosperity (traditionally served whole for New Year’s)

Try this Miso-Glazed Salmon or Chinese Szechuan Spicy Fish Soup

Miso Glazed Salmon

Bamboo shoots – wealth

Shitake mushrooms – longevity

Stir-Fry Noodles with Chicken, Shitake Mushrooms and Chinese Vegetables (use rice noodles for gluten-free option)

Stir-Fry Noodles with Chicken and Vegetables

Green vegetables – close family ties

Stir-Fry Baby Bok Choy with Shitake Mushrooms and Peppers

Stir-Fry Bok Choy and Shitake Mushrooms

Rice – fertility, luck, wealth

Shrimp – happiness and good fortune

Chinese Shrimp Fried Rice

Shrimp Fried Brown Rice © Jeanette's Healthy Living

Noodles – long life

Pancit Bihon (Stir-Fry Rice and Mung Bean Noodles with Chicken Shrimp and Vegetables)


Dan Dan Mien  (Steamy Kitchen)
Dan Dan Mein

Dan Dan Mien (Chinese Takeout Cookbook)

Szechuan Dan Dan Mein

Chinese dumplings – wealth

Gluten-Free Chinese Dumplings

Gluten-Free Chinese Dumplings

Korean Ramen Noodle Bowl with Dumplings

Korean Spicy Soba Noodle Dumpling Soup

Egg rolls – wealth

UnFried Spring Rolls

Radish/Turnip – good fortune

Chinese Turnip Cake 

Panfried Chinese Turnip Cake with Oyster Sauce

Dried Bean Curd – Fulfillment of Wealth and Happiness
Day Lily Buds – Wealth
Mung Bean Noodles (cellophane noodles ) – Silver Chain
Wood Ear Fungus – Longevity

Vegetarian Buddha’s Delight

Vegetarian Bhuddas Delight © Jeanette's Healthy Living

Chinese Cabbage – wealth

Quick Napa Cabbage Kimchi

Napa Cabbage Kimchi

Sweets – safety, good fortune and “sweeten” the New Year

Florence Lin’s Baked Sticky Rice Cake

Chinese Coconut Almond Sticky RiceCake

Grapes – wealth, abundance, fertility

Oranges – wealth

Oranges for Chinese New Year

Read this post for more information on Chinese New Year.

Happy New Year Everyone! 

Xin Nian Kuai Le, Gun Hay Fat Choy!!

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  1. That braised chicken with chestnuts looks spectacular, Jeanette. And turnip cake is definitely a must during the holiday season.
    Gun Hay Fat Choy!

  2. Happy New Year Jeanette!
    That’s a great round up of dishes. The first thing on my to do list is Kimchi this week.
    Have a great week.

  3. Happy New Year girl! I just went down the list and kept clicking them all, I can’t pick a favorite!

  4. What a great selection of tasty recipes!

  5. These all look amazingly delicious and authentic! I’m hosting a Pinterest party this week and would love for you to join us as we get ready to celebrate the Lunar New Year. http://swirlsandspice.com/2014/01/27/lunar-new-year-recipe-pinterest-party/

    • Thanks Julia – I just left links to a couple of Lunar New Year recipes for your pinterest party. Thanks for the invite!

  6. What a wonderful round up Jeanette! They all look delicious! Hope you and your family have a wonderful CNY celebration :)

  7. Happy New Year to you and your family Kelly!

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