Food & Fortune – A Guide To Lunar New Year Foods

Ring in the year of the Rabbit with an epic feast to bring you good luck for the year to come! Yes, you can eat your way into a great year, here’s how this works…

In Asian culture, certain foods are eaten during the Lunar New Year for their “lucky” qualities. Why are some foods considered luckier than others? Well, the pronunciation of these foods simply sound lucky in the Chinese language, or their shape could resemble something lucky. Still puzzled? Let’s take a look at seven “lucky” foods that are traditionally prepared for Chinese Lunar New Year dinner.

  1. Fish: In Chinese, the word for fish also sounds like the word for surplus, therefore eating fish for Lunar New Year will bring an increase in prosperity in the upcoming year.
  2. Dumplings: Dumplings are traditionally made in the shape of a Chinese ingot, a small piece of gold or silver used as currency in ancient China. The belief here is that the more dumplings you can eat, the more wealth you will acquire in the year to come. To that we say, challenge accepted!
  3. Spring Rolls: Golden fried crispy spring rolls resemble bars of gold, so eating spring rolls symbolizes wealth in the new year to come.
  4. Glutinous Rice Cake: In Chinese, the word for rice cake also sounds like you’re saying “getting higher year by year.” The belief here is that if you are in a “higher” position, you are doing well for yourself, and if you’re doing well for yourself, you will experience an improvement in life in general.
  5. Sweet Rice Balls: These chewy glutinous rice balls are served as dessert with a hot sweet soup base. The pronunciation and shape of these rice balls bring to mind reunion and togetherness with family and friends – I guess that’s what life is all about, loved ones!
  6. Longevity Noodles: A big bowl of long uncut noodles represent a long life filled with happiness. Makes sense to us, a big bowl of noodles has always made us REALLY happy!
  7. Round & “Golden” Fruits: Fruits such as tangerines, oranges, and pomelos are lucky because the pronunciation of these words resembles the words for “luck” and “success.” The round and full shape of these fruits also represent fullness and wealth!

So now that you have a few staple items to add to your grocery list for tomorrow night, check out these traditional Asian dishes from our Culinary Contributors below and wow your dinner guests with your Lunar New Year knowledge.

Asian Recipe Recommendations

Mala Project Zhajiang Noodle
MáLà Project | Amelie Kang: Zhajiang Noodles⁠
koko head cafe chicken liver dumplings
Koko Head Cafe | Lee Anne Wong: Chicken Liver Dumplings⁠
Pine and Crane Mapo Tofu
Pine and Crane | Vivian Ku: Mapo Tofu⁠
Nyum Bai Crispy Pork Egg Rolls (Nem Jien)
Nyum Bai | Nite Yun: Crispy Pork Egg Rolls (Nem Jien)⁠
Van Da Hoi An Turmeric Noodles
Van Đa | Yen Ngo: Hoi An Tumeric Noodles⁠
Pig and Khao Pad Thai
Pig and Khao | Leah Cohen: Pad Thai⁠
bricolage kao yuk soy braised pork belly
Bricolage | Lien Lin: “Kao Yuk” Soy Braised Pork Belly⁠
Van Đa | Mary Celine Bui: Eggplant Salad⁠
Van Đa | Mary Celine Bui: Eggplant Salad⁠
koi fine asian cuisine and lounge sesame chicken
Koi Fine Asian Cuisine & Lounge | Sandy Chen: Sesame Chicken⁠
myers+chang vanilla bean parfait with orange granita
Myers+Chang | Joanne Chang: Vanilla Bean Parfait with Orange Granita⁠
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