Happy Chinese New Year ahead!
After the new year holiday, we are quite busy with our Chinese Lunar New Year (2018 is the year of dog), preparing gifts, storing food and buying new clothes. I always feel that I am quite lucky as a Chinese because I can have two New Year and two birthdays. Those post includes Elaine's favorite Chinese new year recipes. If possible, I would love to hear what's your favorite dishes for Chinese new year.
Chinese New Year is also called as Lunar New Year or Chinese Spring Festival. We call the festival as 春(chūn)节(jié)(spring festival) in Chinese. Traditionally, Chinese New Year used to be 15 days. The festival ends at 15th, January in lunar calendar. It is the most important festival for all Chinese people. Lots of people including me and my husband are working far from our hometowns, so we are moving back for family reunion almost each year. Spring Festival Travel is one of greatest Chinese phenomenon, though I do not like it at all.
During the holiday, older generation prepares yummiest childhood food for younger generations.The family gathering meal is called 团(tuán)年(nián)饭(fàn)in Chinese. All the family members should present this yearly meal.China is a country with large landscape and rich culture dense.Foods for Chinese 团年饭 differ from area to area based on local cuisines and custom.
Although Chinese meal do not comply with the western cuisine rules with starters, main courses, soups and etc, there are still some commons. Usually we have staple food, soups, salad, desserts, meat dishes (steamed, fried, stir-fried or poached etc), and vegetable stir fries. Following is recommended as they are the most popular Chinese New Year dishes.
How to make dumpling- dumpling making a great home activity during the holiday. You can quickly arrange a dumpling party during the Spring Festival. Dumplings are the most popular and indispensable staple food especially for Northern people. Chive and Pork Potstickers - In addition to water boiled dumplings, you can always choose to add some crispness to make potstickers by pan-frying.
Ultimate guide to Wonton Soup-- where you can find ways to cook spicy wonton soup .
Fried mantou with condensed milk|golden and silver mantou (金银馒头). If you make mantou regularly, the best and simplest way to make the plain mantou suitable for a holiday is to deep-fry half of it. Deep-fried mantou implies golden while steamed white buns implies silver, hoping a prosperous new year.
Eight treasure congee (八宝粥) is also known as Lapa congee (腊八粥), usually served at the 8th, Nov in lunar calendar. It indicates the starting of the Lunar New Year. People start to prepare and make Chinese New Year goods, decorate the house and clean the daily stuff.
Desserts and Snacks
Tangyuan is also known as Yuanxiao. People used to have the custom of enjoying tangyuan for Lantern Festival. Now it is also eaten on the morning of the first day in lunar month in southern provinces. Round foods have a meaning of family reunion. I have listed both black sesame tangyuan and peanut tangyuan this year. In addition to boiled tangyuan soup, you can also flat the dough and make pan-fried sticky rice cake.
Fried sesame balls (煎堆) - fried sesame balls is a deep-fried version of Chinese Tangyuan. Both of them are made from sticky rice flour (糯米粉). The round shape is a great symbol for family reunion.
Nian Gao is made with glutinous rice for the New Year. Originally, it is mainly for worship the gods and ancestors. Now nian gao is a popular ingredients for Chinese New Year. The Chinese pronunciation of Niangao has a meanings of increasing prosperous year after year.
Chinese Spring Roll(春卷) is another must food, especially for older generations. Deep-fried dishes are not very popular now but we still need them for holidays. You can make homemade spring roll wrappers with very basic ingredients and kitchen utensils. For vegan readers, you can use shredded taro is a great choice..
Main Dish (Beef, chicken, lamb, fish)
Chinese steamed fish - Fish is an indispensable dish on Chinese New Year meal, as the Chinese pronunciation of Fish 'Yu' is loaded with lots of wishes and meanings. 'Yu' means having something accumulated after one year hard working. There is a famous Chinese blessing speech as 'Nian Nian You Yu', meaning bountiful harvests each year. For Chinese New Year meal, fish is usually cooked as a whole.
Sweet and sour ribs (糖醋排骨)| Sweet and sour dishes are a popular group on Chinese table. In addition to this one, sweet and sour meatballs, sweet and sour pork and sweet and sour fish are also quite common.
Cantonese roasted chicken| Chinese people love to cook whole chicken, duck or whole fish during the festival. They are good symbols of completeness. This easy to make roasted chicken is easy to prepare and let the oven to help with the family dinner.
Chinese Braised Chicken|Another simmered chicken with soy sauce and spices is Chinese style braised chicken. The chicken is full of flavor after long time soaking in a master stock with soy sauce and various spices.
Chongqing Mala Chicken (辣子鸡丁)| Though it is not a universal New Year dish across the country, I still want to recommend it since it appears a lot on my family's reunion table. We love the bright red color of the peppers and the strong aroma of the chicken, hoping a "红红火火" (red and lucky) new year.
Pineapple Tarts—Enclosed Version (凤梨酥) | Cookies and tarts are quite essential for children during the new year. Pineapple tarts, with sweet and sour taste and a sandy shell, have been imported from Taiwan for years.
Chinese almond cookie| Chinese almond cookie is one of the yummy and crunchy Chinese style pastries, usually made for festivals (Chinese New Year). It has been the most popular snack for children in my family for years. Similar cookies include walnut cookie and black sesame cookie.
Laughing balls, fried sesame balls (开口笑)| A famous Chinese deep-fried snack for Chinese New Year——开口笑 (Chinese smiling sesame balls).
Hope you will have a great family party in the coming holiday. Enjoy!
Thank you for publishing these recipes and great cultural information. XIN NIAN KUAI LE! May 2018 bring everything you need.
Meghan in Xi'an
Happy New Year to you and your family.
These look delicious! So informative!
Please check out my blog on vegetarianism and veganism in Chinese food in Canada: https://whitegirlchinesefood.wordpress.com
Our family really enjoys your recipes. Can you repost the pineapple tart recipe? The link is broken.
I will re-test pineapple tart soon and then re-post the recipe.
A happy New Year to you again. What did you cook this this time? Or where you lucky enough that someone else cooked for you? Just wanted to let you know, that I still cook your recipes on a daily basis although I can't always keep up with the new ones. Please continue your great work on this site, I really appreciate it.