Did you know that Chinese New Year lasts for two weeks? Feasting with family & friends is at the heart of this long holiday, so it’s best to pace yourself, squeeze in some exercise, and drink lots of tea for digestion. But still enjoy yourself because the fun of Chinese New Year is trying all the different dishes & snacks from contemporary creations, to the auspicious, traditional foods that usher in happiness and symbolize good fortune for the New Year.
This year is the Year of the Monkey. I just happen to be a monkey (you can check your Chinese Zodiac here), so I might indulge a little more this holiday. You don’t have to be Chinese to join in the fun, so if you’re up to trying out some auspicious foods for the Lunar New Year to increase your luck for 2016, and to just enjoy learning a new dish, here are 8 Chinese New Year recipes to get you started. Gan Bei 干杯 Cheers!
1. Yee Sang 鱼生 (Chinese New Year Prosperity Salad): This festive colored salad is commonly served on the 7th day of the New Year in Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia. Everyone will gather around the table, chopsticks in hand, and toss the Yee Sang ingredients up in the air, while saying Lo Hei (toss up), or any well wishes for the New Year. This recipe is my modern twist on the dish.
2. Dumplings: It’s just not Chinese New Year without the holiday’s most symbolic food – jiaozi or dumplings. Shaped like Chinese gold ingots or money bags, dumplings are eaten to bring you good fortune. That aside, dumplings bring deeper meaning as family members gather together to prepare and cook them, signifying the reunion of a family.
3. Stir-Fried Broccoli with Mushrooms: On the first day of Chinese New Year, many households will traditionally refrain from meat. Chinese believe that eating vegetarian dishes on the first day will cleanse their spirit and body, bringing longevity. It’s just like the global movement of Meatless Mondays, where people are starting out every week on a healthy note.
4. Sweet & Spicy Pineapple Prawns 金虾报喜 - This sizzling hot plate of Sweet & Spicy Pineapple Prawns is a Malaysian-Chinese dish, promising you lots of laughter (siu har har 笑哈哈), prosperity, and a happy belly!
5. Chinese Gourmet BBQ Pork Jerky (Bak Kua 肉干): There are long lines in Malaysia & Singapore just to buy this must-have Chinese New Year snack. Make it at home and find out why this is such a treasured treat. Best enjoyed on the second day of the New Year, after you’ve cleansed with all vegetarian meals.
6. Sesame Chicken Tangerine Salad: Resembling the bright orange of the sun, the Mandarin orange has long been associated in Chinese culture with the positive and generative force of nature. Whip up this chicken salad, and feel good by adding in lots of lots of juicy orange or tangerine slices.
7. Golden Roast Chicken with Orange Glaze – Oranges are aplenty for the holiday, so get creative and cook up this orange glazed roast chicken spiced with star anise, ginger, and cinnamon – spices commonly used in Chinese cooking.
8. Bubur Cha Cha – Celebrate Chinese Valentine’s Day (the last day of the New Year) with this unique coconut milk dessert made with yam, sweet potato, black-eyed peas, and banana. It’s enjoyed in Malaysia & Singapore to symbolize a fruitful, sweet year ahead!