Gong Hei Fat Choy to the Year of the Goat!
Chinese New Year will be here in just a few days! Chinese New Year is the time where people gather with families and friends for food as well as wishing the best for a new year to come. This is the most important festival of the year and while all Chinese are busy preparing and cleaning their houses, I would like to introduce you to some traditional and special food for the Chinese New Year. The Chinese have a number of ‘Lucky’ foods which they serve through the two week celebration, these foods are based around wealth, health, fortune and long life during the Chinese New Year period. If you haven’t tried these I strongly recommend you do!
1. Candy box and deep friend sweet dumplings
Nearly all Chinese will prepare a candy box at home to treat their family members, relatives and friends who visit them during the Chinese New Year. It contains dried melon seeds, sweet lotus seeds, sweet winter melon slices, deep friend peanut and coconut dumplings as well as deep fried sesame seed balls. These represent wealth and fortune. A small secret here, the sesame balls looked like ancient Chinese coins!
2. Lo Hei Yu Sheng
Lo Hei is a fortune- and prosperity-bringing dish, also known as the Prosperity Toss, and it is perhaps the best dish for sharing at Chinese New Year.
A colourful dish of raw fish and vegetables (often comprising Salmon, carrots, radish, crackers, plum sauce and five spice) it all arranged neatly on a plate but it does not stay that way for long as everyone is given a pair of chopsticks. The belief is that the higher you toss the food, the better your fortune.
3. ‘Nian Gao’ and Turnip Cake
Of course no celebration is complete without some puddings. Traditionally Chinese will eat Nian-Gao, a sweet and sticky pudding made from coconut juice and glutinous flour. Nian Gao is a homonym for “higher year," which signifies progress... some are moulded into a fish shape which also signifies good health and long life.
Some people prefer a savoury Turnip Cake… made from conpoys, dried sausages, dried ham and turnip. Shallow fry them and you have the best crispy and salty taste.
4. ‘Pun-Choi’ or Big Bowl Feast
Pun Choi is a popular celebration food that is guaranteed to make an appearance during Chinese New Year.
Legend has it that Emperor Bing of the Song dynasty fled to the New Territories. Villagers received the emperor and his army with any seasonal produce they could find. This was when Hong Kong had a strong agricultural tradition. But unable to find enough dishes for such a large crowd, they served it in the wooden bowls used by fishermen.
‘Pun-Choi’ is like a ‘treasure box’ and this represents a good year. Some ‘Pun-Choi’ are big enough for a table of 12 people to share. You will be able to find braised abalones, conpoys, steam chicken, pigs’ legs, roast duck, pawns, vegetables, turnips, fish balls put in different layers in this ‘treasure box’ !
5. The Tray of Togetherness
During the two week Chinese New Year period each home has a tray of togetherness or prosperity box.
Each of the eight items in the tray of togetherness has symbolic meaning meant to ensure a prosperous New Year, such as preserved kumquats for prosperity, coconut for togetherness, longans to bring many sons, and red melon seeds for happiness.
I hope you like my suggestions! Why not try them during the coming holidays?
Happy New Year!
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