I have introduced you 4 festive food of Chinese New Year, which are meant to bring luck and happiness to you. To double your luck and fortune, here I am going to tell you 4 more festive food with symbolic meaning! You should know the number 8 is always a lucky number for Chinese, which means earning a fortune! So you'd better eat all these 8 dishes during the new year holiday!
Nian Gao/ Glutinous Rice Cake (年糕)
Other than some tradition main dishes, we Chinese always have different kind of snacks/ dessert during the Chinese New Year, one of the most popular one is definitely Nian gao! Also known as “rice cake” or “New Year cake” in English, Nian gao is a must for Chinese New Year. In ancient times, it was served as special offerings to the ancestors and gods and it is now a treat to us normal human being for the New Year. The Chinese word for cake is a homonym to the word for bloom, raise, or prosper, and you will see this theme repeatedly in many symbolic dishes. Also, the Chinese word for sticky sounds like the word for “year”, that both of them pronounce as “nian”. Thus, by having Nian Gao, it’s a wish to be more successful each year. Every year will be better than the last. Some humorous parents like to tell their children that eating this will help them grow taller too.
Apart from Nian gao, there is another kind of “cake” for the southerners to eat during Chinese New Year, which is turnip cake! Similar to Nian gao, turnip cakes are served on New Year’s Day as a symbol of prosperity and rising fortune. In addition to the symbolism of “cake”, the Chinese word in Hokkien dialect for “radish” is a homonym for luck or fortune, making this an especially welcomed gift and dish over the holidays. Turnip cake is made with shredded radish and rice flour. Once made, the radish/rice flour/water mixture can be mixed with dried shiitake mushrooms, dried shrimp or Chinese dried sausage for added flavor. The batter then need to be streamed until it solidifies and it can also be pan-fried in pieces after streaming to give a crispy texture at the outer layer.
Tangyuan/ Sweet Rice Balls (汤圆)
Sweet rice ball is the main food for China's Lantern Festival, however, in south China, people eat them throughout the Spring Festival. The pronunciation and round shape of tangyuan are associated with reunion and being together. That's why they are favored by the Chinese during the New Year celebrations. This dessert is cooked in boiling water and is usually served with a sweet dessert-soup base. Eating black-sesame rice balls for the Lunar New Year is said to bring the family together, because the Chinese terms tong yoon and tang yuan sound like the phrase that means “reunion”. You can buy frozen packages at your local Chinese supermarket or have them fresh at various Chinese restaurants.
Do you realise that people start putting up plant decoration of Tangerines for the New Year? Not only are tangerines in the season during Chinese New Year, it also represents wealth and good luck due to its golden colour and the similar pronunciation with the word “luck” in Chinese. Thus, it becomes a popular symbol of good luck, happiness and fortune. It is also exchanged among friends and acquaintances when they visit them during the Chinese New Year. Also, in southern China like Hong Kong, people will also prepare a candy box with Tangerines decoration on top of it to share a bite of luck to their friends who come to visit!
Does it give you enough inspiration for your Chinese New Year? Quickly get all the festive food prepared and boost your luck for the New Year!