5 Traditional Chinese New Year Food

Gong Xi Fa Cai! Chinese New Year is an important annual event in Chinese culture and is celebrated by millions of people all around the world. Every year, families get together to welcome in the new year with a variety of traditions and celebrations. Traditions associated with Chinese New Year include decorating homes with red paper lanterns to symbolize good fortune and prosperity; setting off firecrackers to scare away evil spirits; offering food for ancestors; giving children money in bright red envelopes as gifts; and attending family reunions. Aside from celebration and festivity, food also plays a central role in these traditions.

Image by Freepik
Image by Freepik

Authentic Chinese cuisine is enjoyed during this exciting holiday, from steamed chicken to fish, dumplings, and noodles. Noodles represent longevity in Chinese culture so it's no surprise that these feature prominently on Chinese New Year menus. Fish symbolizes abundance and prosperity, while steamed chicken is said to bring unity and blessings for everyone present at the celebration. Here are some ideas for Chinese New Year foods.


Image by Panomnom
Image by Panomnom

Eating noodles holds an especially significant meaning when it comes to celebrating Chinese New Year. Noodles represent a long life because they can be stretched into longer shapes without breaking apart.

Therefore, during Chinese New Year meals, family members often enjoy dishes that include noodles such as Lo Mein (tossed or stirred noodles) or Chow Mein (fried noodles) as a symbol of longevity and prosperity in the upcoming year ahead. Eating these dishes together also helps strengthen family bonds and creates lasting memories over the years.

Chow Mein or fried noodle is one of the most popular dishes in Southeast Asia and is a typical Indonesian food that is liked by almost everyone. This dish is commonly found in several countries other than Indonesia, of course in Singapore and Malaysia. According to history, fried noodles are one of the most famous dishes in several countries in the world. You can find our Fried Noodle recipe here.

Lo Mein or stirred noodle, also called tossed noodle, is a popular noodle dish that originated in northern China. It consists of boiled egg stir-fried with vegetables and various meats like pork, chicken or beef. Every family has their own special recipe for Lo Mein that they make to celebrate Chinese New Year.

One example of Lo Mein is Misua. Misua is a small noodle made from wheat flour, usually with a salty taste in the noodles, which are then boiled and topped with. It is usually served with eggs, chicken, pork intestines, beef, shiitake mushrooms, spring onions, fried shallots, and beans. You can find our Misua recipe here.


Image by Panomnom
Image by Panomnom

One traditional food associated with Chinese New Year is dumplings. Dumplings symbolize wealth due to their shape resembling gold ingots used during imperial times in China.

Eating dumplings also signifies reunion amongst family members as it's considered a communal activity enjoyed by all. People gather together to make hundreds of these tasty treats from scratch using various types of fillings such as chicken, pork, beef, shrimp and vegetables before steaming or frying them up in a pan.

Dumplings, also known as Wonton, have come from China since the Tang Dynasty. One of the side dishes that is proven to be the origin of dumplings at that time, named "Jiaozi". This dish is made of flour dough with filling inside and served with a traditional soup. For the dumpling filling, you can use a mixture of chicken and shrimp. The mixture is then added with some spices such as garlic, soy sauce, salt, pepper, and other seasonings.

Check out our Fried Dumplings recipe here.

Steamed Chicken

Image by Panomnom
Image by Panomnom

Chinese New Year is a time for celebration, and one of the most popular dishes served is steamed chicken. Chinese people believe that serving this dish on Chinese New Year’s day brings unity, good luck, and blessings to those who consume it. Steamed chicken is often prepared with traditional Chinese herbs such as ginger, garlic, green onion, and other spices. This combination of flavors adds a delicate aroma to the dish, which pairs beautifully with the succulent meat of the chicken.

One example of steamed chicken is Ginger Chicken. Ginger is a type of aromatic and flavorful spice that has many health benefits. Ginger contains antioxidants that can protect the body from free radicals. According to nutrition experts, this ginger chicken is healthy and can warm the body.

Ginger chicken is one of the traditional chicken dishes that are easy to make. This dish is made with fresh ginger, garlic, and scallions, and is marinated in soy sauce, sesame oil, and other seasonings. The result will be very juicy and flavorful! You can find our Ginger Chicken recipe here.

Another steamed chicken that can be served for Chinese New Year is Pesak Chicken or Pak Cam Ke, a Chinese food which has an oriental taste. Pesak chicken is a boiled chicken served with sesame oil, soy sauce, and fried garlic. This chicken is boiled for a little bit longer (but not too long), so the meat becomes very tender.

The uniqueness of this dish is the cooking method. If you want to get super tender chicken meat, you need to be patient when cooking this dish. You need to prepare two pans, one containing boiling water and the other pan containing cold water. You don't need to marinate the chicken, just put the chicken in a pot of boiling water.

After boiling the chicken, take it out, then put it in the cold water for a few minutes. Then put the chicken back into the boiling water, this method should be done 3 times until the meat is tender. Don't throw away the boiling water, because it contains chicken broth. You can use the broth to make a soup as a complement. For a full recipe, you can see here.

Image by Panomnom
Image by Panomnom

And lastly, have you ever heard about Hainanese Chicken? Yup, this delicious yet so aromatic Hainanese Chicken is a dish originating from Hainan, China, and very popular in Singapore. This dish consists of poached chicken served with steamed Hainanese rice and is often considered to be a healthier alternative to other Chinese chicken dishes.

Hainanese Chicken is made by boiling the chicken in a mixture of ginger and garlic. And for the Hainanese rice, you can make it with the chicken broth to add the special Hainanese flavors. Serve the Hainanese Chicken with steamed rice along with chili sauce or green onions, and fried garlic. You can find our Hainanese Chicken recipe here.

Fish Dishes

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Image by Panomnom

One of the key elements of Chinese New Year celebrations is fish. This symbolizes surplus wealth due to its pronunciation in Chinese being similar to that of 'abundance' or 'surplus'. Fish dishes are served during dinner on Chinese New Year's Eve as a wish for prosperity in the coming year.

Fish also means extra blessings from parents or elders. Eating this dish symbolizes abundance and good luck throughout the upcoming year. In addition, fish are gifted between relatives and friends as an offering of health and prosperity.

Not only steamed or boiled fish dishes, but baked or roasted fish can also be served on Chinese New Year's day. And if you don't have a big enough steamer or pan, you can cut the fish according to your pan's size. Our recipe, Salmon with Lemon Seasoning and Roasted Potatoes, is a fish fillet dish that can be cooked for Chinese New Year celebrations.

Roasting salmon is an incredibly simple yet effective technique for preparing this succulent fish. It involves the application of heat from an oven, typically at a temperature of around 200°C, to the fillet or portion of salmon. The purpose of roasting is to cook the fish through and achieve desired textures (juicy on the inside, and crispy on the outside). You can see the full recipe here.


Image by Freepik
Image by Freepik

Fruits are an important part of Chinese New Year traditions as they symbolize happiness and good luck. Popular fruits served during celebrations include oranges which represent luck, tangerines which signify success and wealth, apples which represent peace and harmony for families, and pomelos which symbolize family unity and good luck.

Chinese New Year is a joyous occasion celebrated by Chinese people all over the world. It's a time for family reunion, great food, and meaningful traditions. The food served during Chinese New Year symbolizes good luck, wealth, happiness, prosperity, and long life. From the traditional fried noodles to the dumplings, any steamed chicken or roasted fish, there are countless delicious dishes that are part of this special celebration. And lastly, may good luck, wealth, prosperity, happiness, and longevity follow you wherever you go.

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