- Whole fish
- Spring rolls
- Glutinous rice cake
- Longevity noodles
- Good fortune fruit
- Sweet rice balls
- Eight treasure rice
In search of Chinese New Year lucky foods to start the lunar new year off right?
In Chinese culture, the Chinese New Year (also known as the lunar new year) is typically rung in with two Fs: family and food.
Something that may come as a surprise to Westerners is that the dishes eaten around the Chinese New Year are more than just traditional — they're intentional. The foods eaten to celebrate the end of one year and the beginning of another are consumed as a means of increasing one's fortune during the upcoming year. There are a number of Chinese New Year lucky foods typically consumed as a means of improving the likelihood of prosperity for their consumer; here are eight of them:
It doesn't matter whether they are steamed, pan fried, or boiled — dumplings of all kinds, typically served with soy sauce based dipping sauces, are an absolute staple of Chinese New Year celebrations. According to China Highlights, there exists a legend that, because dumplings resemble silver ingots, the amount of dumplings one eats during Chinese New Year celebrations is directly correlated to the amount of wealth and prosperity they'll achieve in the upcoming year. So if someone ever asks you why you ordered another plate of dumplings around the Chinese New Year, simply tell them the dumplings are an investment.
Recommended recipe: Chinese Pork Dumplings
And we mean the WHOLE fish — head and tail and everything in between, typically steamed. Fish is considered a good luck food in Chinese culture because the Chinese word for "fish," pronounced yú, sounds similar to the Chinese word for "surplus," pronounced shèngyú. So in Chinese culture, the more you scale up your fish consumption (pun intended) around the lunar new year, the better your chances of achieving a surplus of wealth.
Recommended recipe: Chinese Steamed Whole Fish
Deep fried spring rolls, one of the most recognizable Chinese dishes, are a very popular food to eat around the Chinese New Year. Why? Because they look like gold bars, which symbolize wealth. Pair them with dumplings and you have gold and silver foods that have the ability to make your new year shine bright.
Recommended recipe: Cantonese Spring Rolls
Glutinous rice cake
The Chinese pronunciation for glutinous rice cake, "nian gao," sounds similar to a Chinese phrase that means "getting higher year over year." Because of this, it is believed that eating this glutinous rice flour based cake will bring upon a promotion or raise at work or some other elevated social standing.
Recommended recipe: Baked Sweet Glutinous Rice Cake
This one is pretty straightforward: long noodles symbolize a long life. They are longer than normal noodles and just as delicious!
Recommended recipe: Long Life Noodles
Good fortune fruit
Good fortune fruit is another instance where homonyms (similar sounding words) have a place in Chinese culture. The Chinese word for tangerine sounds incredibly similar to the Chinese word for success. Because of this, someone who eats a ton of tangerines around the Chinese New Year is said to be setting themselves up for success!
Recommended recipe: A tangerine!
Sweet rice balls
Sweet rice balls are filled rice dumplings typically served in a bowl of syrup. Their presentation all together in one bowl, along with their name, tang yuan, resembling the Chinese word for "reunion," makes them reminiscent of the concept of a family. Eating them is said to bring good fortune to you and your family.
Recommended recipe: Tang yuan
Eight treasure rice
The number 8 is considered lucky in Chinese culture. That's why this rice pudding with red bean paste and 7 other "treasures" is said to be great to eat during Chinese New Year celebrations for those looking to up their chances of having a great upcoming year.
Recommended recipe: Eight-Treasure Puddings
Gong xi fa cai/gong hei fat choy!