In Chinese culture, the New Year foods prepared (and eaten) are intertwined with superstitions; meant to bring good luck for the new year. So – if you’d like to invite luck and prosperity into your life during the Year of the Ox (who doesn’t?!), this article is a must-read. It covers 5 traditional, lucky Chinese New Year foods you need to eat for a positive start to 2021.
#1 – Sweet glutinous rice cake (年糕; nian gao)
年糕 (nian gao) is traditionally made of glutinous rice flour and/or sweet glutinous rice flour – and can either have a sweet or savoury flavour profile, depending on the region. While its Chinese name translates to ‘year cake,’ this sticky and dense treat is considered a lucky food as it’s a homonym for ‘a better year ahead.’ There are many ways to enjoy this traditional delicacy: pan-fry and eat it on its own; sandwich it between slices of sweet potato and yam, then deep-fried; or, steamed and rolled in grated coconut. No matter which you choose, it’s bound to be delicious.
#2 – Spring rolls
Eat these crunchy, golden-brown fried rolls year-round? You’re not alone. But you might want to eat a little more of these during the Chinese New Year; that’s because there’s a lucky Chinese saying associated with eating these: ‘黄金万两’ (huang jin wan liang), meaning ‘ton of gold,’ suggesting that the spring rolls symbolize wealth. So – you know what to do if you’d like a more prosperous year, eh?
#3 – Whole fish
In Mandarin, the word for ‘surplus’ (余; yu) is a homophone of ‘fish’ (鱼; yu). Eating fish during the celebrations is thought to help you enjoy an abundance of food and/or wealth. Now, you might be asking… Why a whole fish? Well, that’s because of another Chinese expression, ‘有头有尾’ (you tou you wei), which translates to ‘have both a head and a tail.’ Eating a whole fish is thus meant to symbolize that you’ll be able to finish whatever you’ve started – successfully.
#4 – Sweet rice balls (汤圆; tang yuan)
汤圆 (tang yuan) are mochi-like balls made of glutinous rice flour – and these chewy delights can be as tiny as marbles. While the direct translation of 汤圆 (tang yuan) is ‘soup ball,’ its pronunciation is very similar to another Chinese phrase, 团圆 (tuan yuan), which means reunion. It’s a symbol of togetherness. And wouldn’t you agree that being able to reunite with family and friends counts as one of the luckiest feelings you’ve experienced?
#5 – Dumplings (饺子; jiao zi)
Because dumplings resemble the ingot (i.e. gold and silver pieces used as money in ancient times), Chinese believe that eating dumplings represent being wealthy – you have all of this money you’re eating! In fact… Legend has it that the more dumplings you eat during the celebrations, the more money you can make in the new year! What do you say? Time to start eating?
Oh, by the way, if you’re ready to dig in, take a look at our high-quality dumplings made only with premium, authentic, and flavoursome ingredients. They’re ready-to-be-cooked, so all you need to do is heat the pan or boil the water. More time for eating; more time for wealth accumulation (wink!)