2017 is the year of the Rooster and over the 16-day celebration for Chinese New Year, you can bet your life that a lot of delectable food will be eaten! Here are some of the luckiest foods to eat during the Chinese festivities.
Although various fish are eaten during Chinese New Year, catfish remains arguably the most popular (although carp is also popular). The Chinese pronunciation of “catfish” sounds similar to the pronunciation of ‘year surplus’, and the Chinese people always like to have a surplus at the end of the year, because they think if they have managed to save something at the end of the year, then they can make more the next. Eating the upper part of the catfish on New Year’s Eve and the remainder on the first day of the new year can be construed as wishing for surplus year-after-year.
Dating back thousands of years, dumplings are a classic Chinese food, and are voraciously eaten on Chinese New Year’s Eve (especially in Northern China). Legend has it that the more dumplings you eat during the New Year celebrations, the more money you can make in the New Year. These dumplings (i.e. Jiaozi or Guo Tie) generally consist of minced meat and finely-chopped vegetables and wrapped in a thin and elastic dough skin. Popular fillings are minced pork, diced shrimp, fish, ground chicken, beef, and vegetables. Chinese dumplings can be cooked either by boiling, steaming, or frying.
Spring rolls are eaten for Chinese New Year as they are supposed to symbolise wealth (the spring rolls look like gold bars). They are especially popular in the east of China (i.e. Shanghai and Guangzhou) where they are a Cantonese dim sum dish filled with vegetables, meat, or something else sweet. Fillings are wrapped in thin dough wrappers, then fried, which then gives the spring rolls their golden-yellow colour.
Tangyuan is a dessert dish of sweet rice balls and their Chinese pronunciation and round shape are associated with reunion and being together. That is why they are favoured by the Chinese during the New Year celebrations.
Certain fruits are eaten during the Chinese New Year period, such as tangerines and oranges. They are selected as they are particularly round and “golden” in colour, symbolising fullness and wealth, but more obviously for the lucky sound they bring when spoken.
In Chinese pronunciation, Niangao (a kind of glutinous rice cake) sounds like it means “getting higher year after year”. In Chinese people’s minds, this means the higher you are the more prosperous your business and life in general will be in the year to come. The main ingredients of Niangao are sticky rice, sugar, chestnuts, Chinese dates, and lotus leaves.
Longevity noodles (Yi Mien) perhaps unsurprisingly symbolise a wish for longevity! Their length and non-severed preparation are also symbolic of the life of those who consume them. Longevity Noodles are longer than normal noodles and uncut, either fried and served on a plate, or boiled and served in a bowl with their broth.
I hope that 2017’s Year of the Rooster is a prosperous one for all Chinese people!