The 8 Auspicious Ingredients You Must-Have this Chinese New Year!

Ever wondered why certain dishes or ingredients are so popular during Chinese New Year? Read on to find out the true meaning behind these dishes and how you can wish your family and friends a Happy Chinese New Year throughout the feasting!

Chinese New Year, also known as Tết in Vietnam is one of the most widely celebrated festive holiday in Asia. Each country has classic dishes unique to their own festive menu although the ingredients used and the meanings behind many of them are similar. In this article, we’ll tell you the 8 auspicious ingredients that are a must have on any reunion table this year!

1. Fish

Ever heard of the saying ‘年年有余’ (Nian nian you yu)? The Mandarin word 余 (yu) which translates to abundance, sounds similar to the Mandrin word 鱼 (yu) which means fish.

Having a whole fish, with the head and tail ‘有头有尾’ (you tou you wei) on your reunion dinner table signifies the year’s beginning and end which also means a good start and good closure to the year.

Fish also symbolizes hope for businesses to prosper as fish don’t swim backwards, signifying progress and movement forward.

A good dish to start with would be the Prosperous Pomfret!

Prosperous Pomfret

What we love about this dish is how naturally sweet the Pomfret meat is, yet at the same time known for its low-fat content, which helps to watch that waistline during Chinese New Year!

Bangus

Another popular fish dish would be Milkfish. Milkfish, also known as Bangus is extremely popular during Chinese New Year in Indonesia. The biggest milkfishes are sold only nearing Chinese New Year and a typical dish that’s everyone’s favorite is the Crispy Fried Milkfish.

2. Chicken

Aside from fish, a whole chicken is also commonly found at Chinese New Year gatherings.

Boiled chicken (Thit Ga)

Boiled chicken (Thit Ga) is traditionally presented as part of a tribute meal to honor ancestors in Vietnam. Due to this practice, it is important to have this on the dinner table during Tết holidays. This dish can also be seasoned with sliced lemon leaves and salt-and-pepper sauce. The other parts of the chicken (especially bones, legs and heads) are used to prepare the broths for other soups.

Interested in our Thit Ga recipe? Click here.

Ayam Kodok

Another interesting dish would be the Ayam Kodok which means frog chicken, a native dish to Peranakan Chinese communities, and true to its name, this roasted stuffed chicken resembles a fat frog which symbolizes happiness and luck.

3. Prawns

The significance of serving prawns at your Chinese New Year reunion dinner comes from saying the word prawns. Like the sound of laughter, prawns (har in Chinese), symbolizes happiness for the family!

Fragrant Fried Prawns

Make your family super happy by serving up a plate of these delicious Fragrant Fried Prawns!

4. Longevity Noodles

Long noodles are usually eaten during Chinese New Year and even birthdays as they represent longevity and blessings of a long life.  When preparing this noodle dish, you have to be careful not to break or cut them up into smaller pieces or it loses its meaning!

Cantonese Lo Mein

5. Glutinous Rice

Glutinous rice and glutinous rice flour are used to make two of the most popular traditional Chinese New Year dishes in the region – Nian Gao (a sweet and sticky Chinese cake) and Banh Chung (a Vietnamese square sticky rice cake with a mung bean filling).

Nian Gao

One reason why Nian Gao is popular during Chinese New Year because in Mandarin, Nian Gao, apart from its literal translation can also mean a “higher year” (年高) with the same intonation.

Bahn Chung

Banh Chung is an important part of Tết holiday. The shape of the Banh Chung is square to reflect what was believed to be the Earth’s shape in the past. It reminds the next generations of their ancestors and ancient traditions, which holds the values of gratitude.

6. Dumplings

Drunken Sesame Prawn Dumplings

Dumplings resemble ingots or money that were used in the past. Eating dumplings is believed to usher in wealth for your family and businesses. If you’re looking to usher more wealth in this year, you’ll definitely need to try this Drunken Sesame Prawn Dumplings this Chinese New Year!

7. Vegetables

Vegetarian dishes with minimal seasoning and oil are commonly eaten during Chinese New Year to symbolize the re-purification of the body, and there’s no better way to start the new year than with a healthy body!

Buddha's Delight

This vibrant vegetarian dish, known as Buddha’s Delight, deserves a place at any Reunion Dinner table! Nutritious and delicious, it consists of a wide variety of vegetables, mushrooms and tofu. Yum!

8. Meatballs

Last but not least, we have meatballs! In Mandarin, meatballs are called 肉圆 (rou yuan) which signifies families coming together. Meatballs being circular in shape also implies 团团圆圆 (tuan tuan yuan yuan) where traditionally and till today, most Chinese families would gather around a round dinner table to eat and gather together.

Braised Lion's Head Meatballs

We recommend trying these Braised Lion’s Head Meatballs. Not only are they delicious, but they supposedly bring peace and protection over your family as lion and dragon statutes are commonly found guarding the entrances of homes and palaces in China.

And there you have it, the 8 auspicious ingredients to have this Chinese New Year and different ways to prepare them! Show your labor of love in this Chinese New Year reunion dinner with these meaningful dishes.