The Lunar New Year begins February 8, and it is a time to start fresh with hopes for luck and happiness. Celebrations involve fireworks and firecrackers to scare away evil spirits from the new year, and like many of my family’s traditions, food is a big part of the festivities. We eat foods that are auspicious such as red turtles opens in a new tab, desserts that represent luck (with the color red) and a long, healthy life (symbolized by the dessert’s turtle shape).
Here are some other foods my family eats for Lunar New Year:
It’s customary for guests to bring citrus fruits such as mandarins to their host or hostess. They’re a sweet symbol of good fortune and are eaten as dessert at the end of the celebratory meal.
As social as it is traditional, hot pot opens in a new tab is a pot of piping hot broth (usually kept hot over a camp stove at the table) that seafood, thinly sliced raw meats and vegetables are dipped in to cook — think fondue-style. It’s a fun and delicious communal activity that results in a soup that’s infused with different flavors as the night goes on. If you’re going to have a hot pot at your table this year, try making your own Homemade Vegetable Broth opens in a new tab or Golden Chicken Broth opens in a new tab.
I started making these with my mother at a pretty young age. She would prepare the filling and I would help seal the pork, scallion, ginger and mushroom mixture into the dumpling wrappers. Dumplings are like little treasure chests of flavor that are said to bring prosperity into the new year.
Here are recipes for Spicy Asian Dumpling Soup opens in a new tab and Pork Dumplings with Dipping Sauce opens in a new tab that may even rival my mother’s — don’t tell her I said that!
Noodles represent longevity and are usually served alongside the hot pot. During my grandmother’s birthday celebrations, we would search for the longest noodle in our bowls and present them to my grandmother for her to eat. I have a really big family, so she always had plenty of noodles to eat! Try Asian Noodle Soup opens in a new tab, Chinese Chicken Noodle Soup opens in a new tab, Sesame-Peanut Noodles opens in a new tab or Chinese-Style Longevity Noodles opens in a new tab.
Looking for more recipes for your celebration? Here are a few more, plus a how-to video for Quick Make-Ahead Turkey Dumplings.
My favorite part of the Lunar New Year celebration is watching a dragon dance opens in a new tab or lion dance opens in a new tab where a team of dancers gets into one big bright dragon or lion costume and dances to drums and clanging cymbals.
What’s your favorite way to celebrate Lunar New Year?