Kitchen Tips

5 lucky dishes you should be eating this Chinese New Year

We’ve rounded up the dishes that are going to bring you wealth, luck and happiness this year, according to Chinese tradition. Eat up!

By Harriet Keown
Chinese New Year, or Lunar New Year, is a celebration rich in traditions, having been the most important part of the calendar for thousands of years. Chinese culture and cuisine are entwined, with the family feast being one of the most significant parts of New Year celebrations which are steeped in superstition and customs. Join in on the festivities this year with your own feast of traditional Chinese dishes, and set yourself up for a year of good fortune and prosperity!

1. Fish - for prosperity

In Chinese, the word for 'fish' sounds very close to the word for 'surplus,' so fish is eaten in the Chinese New Year feast in the hope that it will bring abundance throughout the year. It is traditionally served at the table as a whole fish, with the head and tail intact, representing prosperity from the beginning to the end of the year. If you're daring enough to have a whole fish on your table, try our recipe for tray-baked whole fish with citrus couscous stuffing, or blend Chinese and Kiwi culture with this paper-baked fish and potato skins recipe. When you eat your fish, make sure you say "Nián nián yǒuyú" to your friends and family, which wishes a surplus of food and money every year.

2. Dumplings - for wealth

Because some dumplings are shaped like old Chinese gold and silver ingots, these tasty little parcels are associated with wealth. Families traditionally spend New Year's Eve making dumplings together, so learn how to make your own from scratch with our step-by-step guide. They should be eaten at midnight, and legend says that the more you eat, the more money you will make during the year… so fill yourself 'til bursting! Try our pork and chive potsticker-style dumplings or these fried vegetable dumplings if you want more inspiration for fillings. Plus, if you want to get into the spirit of celebration, hide a coin in one dumpling like some Chinese families, bringing great luck throughout the year to whoever finds it!

3. Lucky fruit - for good fortune

Oranges and tangelos are considered lucky during Chinese New Year, both due to their names and colours. The bright and vibrant orange colour is traditionally associated with wealth, and the names of both fruits sound like the words for success and good luck. To improve your own good-fortune try our soy chicken kebabs with orange hoisin sauce, or these orange honey chicken wings. You could also whip up this stunning orange steamed pudding for a deliciously lucky dessert. But Chinese families don't just feast on these lucky fruits; they do everything they can to obtain their good fortune by decorating their houses and gifting friends and family with individual pieces of fruit, as well as small orange and tangelo trees!

4. Spring rolls - for wealth

Similar in shape and colour to gold bars, spring rolls are also said to represent wealth in Chinese tradition. They get their name from being such a popular menu item in Chinese New Year feasts, as it is also known as the Spring Festival! Set yourself up for a year of wealth with our scrumptious spring roll recipes, such as chicken and carrot, tofu and noodles, or fish and mushroom. You could even opt for a dessert version, with these banana and chocolate rolls! Ultimately, you can use any fillings that you want, as long as you bake or fry them until cooked to a beautiful golden colour.

5. Noodles - for longevity

The longer the length, the better when it comes to noodles on Chinese New Year, as they represent the longevity of life. Chinese families serve long noodles during their festivities, being sure not to cut or break them while cooking or eating, as the length of the noodle is said to be indicative of how long your life will be. Noodles can be either fried, like our delicious recipe for chicken and Chinese broccoli stir fry or these hock chew fried noodles, or served in broth like our Chinese noodle, tofu and vegetable soup. Then all you have to do is slurp as if your life depends on it!