Happy Lunar New Year Nerdie Foodies! It is officially the Year of the Pig as of February 5th! Traditionally, the Lunar New Year is a 2-week long celebration back in the homeland. So, to keep the festivities going, this Nerdie Foodie post will give you a small taste of some of the traditional and modern dishes that are eaten during this celebration on New Year’s Eve with the whole family. A special thank you to Jen’s mom for helping with the meanings on each dish below. Let’s check these recipes out!
Laughing Sesame Balls
(Kai Kou Xiao)
These tasty treats are a great snack! It can be considered as a cookie as they are slightly on the sweet side. A traditional staple during the Lunar New Year, they are eaten so that you bring in laughter and smiles into the new year. The cracks in these cookies are the “smiles”. Check out how to make your very own in this tutorial below by Youtuber Happy Wok!
*Note: If the balls of dough are too dry for the sesame seeds to adhere to, you can dab the dough with a bit of water before coating them with the seeds*
For a twist, check out Christina Ng’s (from East Meets Kitchen) tutorial below for a VEGAN version of this delightful treat!
Prosperity Salad Toss
This seafood dish is considered as a fairly modern tradition that comes from Malaysia and Singapore. Known as Yee Sang, this salad comprises of shredded or julienned veggies such as cucumbers and carrots, some crunch and either raw or smoked salmon. There are many variations depending on your likes and dislikes and what you have available, but what makes this salad special is that you toss the salad together as a family. The higher you toss, the more auspicious and prosperity one will have in the new year. Check out these two versions of the prosperity salad, the first one by Australia’s season 2 Master Chef Adam Liaw:
And check out this version by Linda from Malaysian Chinese Kitchen:
White Whole Chicken
Yes, that’s right, a white whole chicken that includes the head and feet is a very traditional dish! But for our family and quite a few other overseas families, you can hardly find grocery stores that sell whole chickens that include the head and feet, but you can find ones that have the neck still attached to the rest of the body. As long as the chicken is presented whole, it represents completeness and unity of the family. Cooking the chicken whole usually means that it’s partly poached and partly boiled, but the white chicken is served plain with sauce(s) on the side or ladled on top of the chicken to warm it up again. This simple recipe by Wes (from Chinese American Family) even includes the super simple and super tasty side dipping sauces! Check out the recipe here!
A traditional dish that dates back centuries, potstickers are pan-fried dumplings known as Jiao Zi. They are eaten during the New Year to bring prosperity as they represent gold ingots.
For a completely vegetarian potsticker dumpling, Sarah (from The Woks of Life) shares with us her recipe. This is by no means less flavourful as the traditional meat-filled dumpling, Sarah’s recipe definitely brings in some flavour and a homemade dumpling wrapper recipe too! Check out this completely homemade dumpling recipe here!
Sweet and Sour Fish
This dish is a nice combination of both the traditional and modern Lunar New Year cuisine. The traditional being the fish itself (yes, that is the whole fish) and the sweet and sour sauce but with a modern twist of using ketchup. The fish that is eaten is a white fish and it represents having wealth leftover so that you can bring it into the next new year. But remember, when you eat the fish, don’t flip the skeleton over as that would mean losing all your leftover wealth. Check out this simple recipe by Grace (from Nyonya Cooking) in the video tutorial below! *Note: Capsicum is the same as a bell pepper*
And there you have it, just a sampling taste of what Lunar New Year’s Eve dinners can be like. There are many more dishes and treats to eat during this 2-week long celebration. So, from our family to yours, we hope you have a happy, healthy and prosperous Lunar New Year!