10 Lucky Foods for Your Chinese New Year Feast
Good fortune could be yours if you eat these foods during Chinese New Year.
Tray of Togetherness
Often divided into either six or eight compartments, the round Tray of Togetherness consists of dried fruits, nuts, candies (like these lucky strawberry candies) and other tiny treats. While the tray overall represents peace and family harmony, you can customize your offerings based on what specific fortunes you wish to bring in the new year.
Spring rolls (aka chun juan) are thought to look like bars of gold and thus mean wealth and good fortune. What’s inside the deep-fried exterior? A blend of pork, bean sprouts, shredded carrots, cabbage and assorted other veggies. Make your own version at home with this recipe.
Known as changshou mian, these noodles are up to 2 feet long—and the longer the noodle, the luckier you are! No wonder their name means “long-life noodles.” Just be careful not to accidentally break the noodles while you’re cooking. That’s extremely bad luck, as it foreshadows cutting someone’s life short.
According to ancient legends, the amount of money you’ll make in the upcoming year depends on how many dumplings you eat (the more the better). While pork is the most common filling, you can opt for anything from shrimp to chicken to veggies inside the wrappers, then boil on the stove or pan fry.
Sweet Rice Balls
You’ll find these on the table of almost every Chinese family—and for good reason. These gooey balls represent harmony and family togetherness, because their name (tang yuan) sounds almost exactly like the word “reunion” in Chinese (tuan yuan). The round shape also signifies everyone joining in unity.
Having a whole fish (known as dayu darou or “big fish”) signifies abundance and family unity. Plus the word for abundance in Chinese is pronounced the same as the word for fish (yu). The protein is often steamed and served with a simple sauce on the side, usually a sweet and sour or a soy sauce.
Good Fortune Fruit
Oranges, kumquats, tangerines, pomelos…these are all fruits that the Chinese often give as gifts to bring someone good luck and happiness throughout the year. Both the words for oranges and tangerines closely resemble the words for luck and wealth. Not to mention, the gold color is a symbol of prosperity.
The Chinese word for this cake, known as nian gao, is pronounced exactly like the word for “higher year,” which is what makes this dessert so lucky. The sticky rice flour cake, originally used as an offering during ritual ceremonies, is now eaten on the first day of the year to bring better health, wealth and happiness.
Eight Treasure Rice
This variation on sweet rice pudding is adorned with “eight treasures” (a variety of seeds, nuts and fruits like plums, jackfruit, raisins, etc.). Not only is the number eight lucky in this culture, eating desserts on Chinese New Year is also a way to ensure literal sweetness throughout the year ahead.
When you get one of these steamed cupcakes, the more “petals” (aka the individual pieces formed by the split top) you have, the luckier you’ll be in the new year. Made from rice flour, fa gao literally means “prosperity cake,” so it’s no surprise these rice flour treats are popular on Chinese New Year.
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