7 Lucky Lunar New Year Foods to Usher in the Year of the Dragon

While most Americans pop the confetti on January 1st, a significant portion of the population, particularly Asians and Asian-Americans, follows a different calendar. Lunar New Year, also known as Chinese New Year in the U.S., falls on February 10, bringing with it the Year of the Dragon in the Chinese zodiac. This festive shindig, officially begins on the eve of the first new moon in the lunisolar calendar, which is just a smidge shorter than the western 365-day solar year. But what am I most excited about this 16-day-long celebration? The food! Each dish is meticulously prepared, served, and devoured with unique symbolism to supercharge your luck for the year ahead!

Dish Up Prosperity – Year of the Dragon Must-Haves

As New Year celebrations kick off with a heartfelt family dinner, the focus is on strengthening bonds and sending wishes for health, happiness, and prosperity into the year ahead. This grand dinner takes center stage during the festival, attracting people from various corners to unite. So, without further ado, let’s dive into seven must-have dishes to ensure the Year of the Dragon brims with prosperity. Whether you’re hosting the reunion dinner or simply joining with a hearty appetite, these dishes are here to tantalize your taste buds!

1. Dumplings – Pocketfuls of Prosperity

Let’s dive right in with dumplings, or “jiaozi” if you’re feeling fancy. These bite-sized flavor bombs aren’t just scrumptious; they’re like edible treasure chests. Why? Well, their shape is a nod to ancient Chinese gold and silver ingots, and they’re jam-packed with riches – minced meat, veggies, and a pinch of enchantment. Plus, folding them with your crew? That’s a recipe for priceless togetherness!

2. Nian Gao – Sweet Success, One Slice at a Time

Nian Gao, the chewy and sweet rice cake, is all about climbing the ladder of success. Its name sounds like “higher year,” and trust us, that’s music to your taste buds. Picture slicing it up, dunking it in egg, and sizzling it to crispy perfection. Crispy on the outside, gooey on the inside – that’s the kind of balance life should always serve up!

Photo Courtesy of bonchan

3. Fish – Reeling in Prosperity

Fish, my friends, are the kings of abundance and prosperity. The Chinese word for fish, “yu,” sounds an awful lot like “abundance,” and it’s no coincidence. Whole steamed fish, complete with head and tail, symbolize unity and completeness in the family. Think of it as reeling in a big catch of blessings!

4. Longevity Noodles – Slurp Your Way to Forever

Longevity noodles are like the fountain of youth – well, sort of. These uncut noodles represent the never-ending journey of life, and whatever you do, don’t you dare cut or chew them. So, channel your inner noodle-whisperer and slurp your way to a long and prosperous future!

5. Spring Rolls – Crunchy Gold Bars of Flavor

Spring rolls, or “chun juan” in Chinese, are like golden rolls of good fortune. Shaped like bars of gold and stuffed with flavor explosions, they’re here to make you rich in taste and prosperity. Whether they’re fried to a crispy crunch or fresh and fabulous, they’re bite-sized blessings!

6. Oranges and Tangerines – Citrusy Charms of Luck

Oranges and tangerines aren’t just your average fruits; they’re your good luck charms! Their vibrant hues and round shapes practically scream “luck and wealth.” Tangerines, in particular, sound like “luck” in Chinese, making them your surefire ticket to spreading good fortune.

7. Tāngyuán (Sweet Rice Balls) – Sweet Spheres of Harmony

Tāngyuán, or sweet rice balls, bring a touch of sweetness to your Lunar New Year celebration. These round and sticky delights are not just treats for your taste buds but also symbolize family unity. Their name sounds like “tuan yuan,” which means “reunion” in Chinese, making them a fitting addition to your festive spread. Filled with various sweet fillings like sesame or red bean paste, these chewy orbs are served in a fragrant, syrupy broth. Share a bowl of tāngyuán with loved ones to foster harmony and togetherness.

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