Bookmark this collection of Lunar and Chinese New Year Recipes in celebration of the The Lunar New Year. These Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese recipes all contain auspicious ingredients to start the new year off right.
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.
Chinese New Year Traditions
There are lots of traditions leading up to Chinese New Year include cleaning the house thoroughly to sweep away any bad luck, getting haircuts, 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. Children pay their respects to elders and in return they receive red packets (“hung bao”) with some money. Oranges are often given to friends and family that are visited, a symbol of wealth. Chinese New Year wouldn’t be complete without eating a big feast filled with “lucky” foods.
Chinese New Year “Lucky” Foods
During Chinese New Year, special foods are prepared. 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.
I have a collection of Lunar and Chinese New Year recipes that contain “good luck” ingredients. 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
Eggs – prosperity and fertility
Walnuts – happiness of the entire family
Stir-Fry Spicy Kung Pao Chicken with Walnuts
Lettuce – wealth and riches
Fish – surplus, prosperity (traditionally served whole for New Year’s)
Try this Chinese Steamed Fish, Miso Glazed Salmon, or
Chinese Szechuan Spicy Fish Soup
Green vegetables – close family ties
Stir-Fry Baby Bok Choy with Shitake Mushrooms and Peppers
Fried Rice – harmony and plenty
(This fried rice recipe includes shrimp, which represents wealth and abundance)
Sticky Rice – Family Cohesiveness
Instant Pot Chinese Sticky Rice
Mom’s Coconut Sticky Rice Cake
(This cake is called “nian gao” which symbolized prosperity every year)
Shrimp – wealth and abundance
Stir-Fry Shrimp with Thai Roasted Chili Paste
Noodles – long life
Stir Fry Noodles with Chicken, Shitake Mushrooms and Chinese Vegetables
(These noodles also contain shitake mushrooms which symbolize longevity and Chinese vegetables which symbolize close family ties)
Dan Dan Mien (Steamy Kitchen)
Dan Dan Mien (Chinese Takeout Cookbook)
Chinese dumplings – wealth (shaped like ingots, the currency used in old times)
Korean Ramen Noodle Bowl with Dumplings
(This noodle bowl also contains noodles which symbolize longevity, green vegetables which symbolize close family ties, and egg which symbolizes prosperity and fertility)
Spring Rolls – wealth (they resemble gold bricks)
Radish/Turnip – good fortune
Mung Bean Noodles (cellophane noodles ) – Silver Chain
Pancit Bihon (Stir-Fry Rice and Mung Bean Noodles with Chicken Shrimp and Vegetables)
(This dish also includes shrimp which symbolizes wealth and abundance)
Shitake Mushrooms and Wood Ear Fungus – Longevity
Bamboo Shoots – wealth
Dried Bean Curd – fulfillment of wealth and happiness (fresh tofu is not served because its white color symbolizes death and misfortune)
Day Lily Buds – wealth
Mung Bean Noodles – silver chain
Green Vegetables – close family ties
Chinese Broccoli with Oyster Sauce
(packed with “good luck” ingredients like shitake mushrooms, wood ear fungus, bamboo shoots, dried bean curd, day lily buds, mung bean noodles and green vegetables)
Chinese Cabbage – wealth
Sweets – safety, good fortune and “sweeten” the New Year
Florence Lin’s Baked Sticky Rice Cake or My Mom’s Baked Coconut Walnut Sweet Rice Cake
(This cake is called “nian gao” which symbolized prosperity every year)
Mom’s Baked Coconut Sticy Rice Red Bean Cake
(This cake is another variation on “nian gao” which symbolized prosperity every year)
Grapes – wealth, abundance, fertility
Oranges – good luck and abundance
Read this post for more information on Chinese New Year.
Make a few of these Lunar and Chinese New Year recipes to get your New Year off to an auspicious beginning!
Angie@Angie's Recipes says
That braised chicken with chestnuts looks spectacular, Jeanette. And turnip cake is definitely a must during the holiday season.
Gun Hay Fat Choy!
Happy New Year Angie! Yes, both of these are favorites – the turnip cake is my aunt’s recipe.
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.
Pamela @ Brooklyn Farm Girl says
Happy New Year girl! I just went down the list and kept clicking them all, I can’t pick a favorite!
Kevin @ Closet Cooking says
What a great selection of tasty recipes!
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!
What a wonderful round up Jeanette! They all look delicious! Hope you and your family have a wonderful CNY celebration 🙂
Happy New Year to you and your family Kelly!
Hi Jeanette! The egg roll link is not taking me to the correct page, just FYI. Thanks for all your recipes, going to be trying your aunt’s nian gao recipe today!
Thanks for letting me know. I hope you enjoy my aunt’s nian gao!
So um. I don’t even know where to begin with all of these delicious recipes!!!!!!! The braised chicken with chestnuts, the seafood stew – gah!!
Thanks GiGi – Happy Lunar New Year!