10 delicious recipes to make for Chinese New Year
On 1 February 2022, more than 2 billion people around the world celebrated the beginning of a new year, as the lunisolar calendar ticked over once again.
You may also know this time of year as the “Chinese New Year”. During this period, Chinese people across the globe take part in a 15-day festival, involving celebrations, dances, and of course some tantalising and delicious traditional dishes.
So, whether you’ve celebrated it yourself or you just want to soak up a bit of world culture, here are a mix of 10 traditional and modern recipes to enjoy for the Chinese New Year.
A symbol of wealth for the year to come, jiaozi are small, doughy dumplings containing savoury fillings such as meat, tofu, or vegetables.
Jiaozi are like a Chinese equivalent to the Japanese gyoza, and can be boiled, pan-fried, or steamed.
In this particular recipe, you can fill your dumplings with either meat or finely sliced vegetables, depending on what you fancy.
2. Spring rolls
Spring rolls are a classic of the Chinese takeaway in England, and they’re actually a traditional part of the Chinese New Year, too.
These fried rolls are thought to represent wealth, prosperity, and good fortune, supposedly because of their appearance that makes them look like little bars of gold.
You can fill your spring rolls with different fillings such as duck or pork, but the basic recipe contains a combination of bean sprouts, shredded carrot, cabbage, and other vegetables.
This recipe from BBC Good Food takes a healthier approach to other spring rolls, using eggs and mushrooms for the filling.
3. Whole fish
Eating fish for Chinese New Year is seen as a sign of abundance and surplus, as well as family unity.
There are various different kinds of fish that you can eat for this time of year, each with their own specific meaning. These include:
- Catfish, a wish for a surplus in the new year
- Chinese mud carp, a wish for good fortune
- Crucian carp, thought to bring good luck.
This recipe is for steamed fish with ginger and spring onion. It suggests using fillets of white fish, so you could use any of the fish above, depending on what you’d most like out of the new year!
4. Steamed chicken
Much like the fish course, a whole steamed chicken is another symbol of family at Chinese New Year. In fact, the dish is actually first “offered” to the family’s ancestors, asking for blessings and protection in the new year.
This particular recipe uses a ginger, soy, and garlic sauce to lock in that classic flavour associated with Chinese cuisine, and pairs perfectly with rice.
Some recipes allow you to poach your chicken instead, if that’s how you prefer your meat.
5. Pineapple fried rice
A fruity take on a traditional classic, this fried rice recipe from BBC Good Food adds the sweet and tangy flavour of pineapple to liven up your Chinese banquet.
Using eggs, garlic, spring onion, and Chinese five-spice as the base for your rice, simply add 400 grams of roughly chopped, fresh pineapple to create a fusion dish that celebrates the Chinese New Year with style.
6. Longevity noodles
As you can surely imagine, longevity noodles directly symbolise good health and longevity. This is expressed through their additional length compared to ordinary noodles, with some recipes suggesting that they should be as long as two feet!
In fact, the longer the noodle, the luckier you are, and it’s even encouraged to eat them without biting through the individual strands.
This recipe allows you to make two very long noodles, perfect for serving alongside a main chicken or fish dish.
7. Eight treasure rice
Eight treasure rice is a great combination of sweet and savoury flavours, using sticky rice topped with eight “treasures”. The number itself is thought to be lucky in Chinese culture, and so this dish represents luck and sweetness for the coming year.
Your eight treasures can be whatever you’d like, from meats and vegetables, to seeds, nuts, and fruits.
This recipe uses shrimp, Chinese sausage, and a whole host of veggies and legumes, but feel free to swap these out for whatever you fancy.
8. Tang yuan
Tang yuan are sweet rice balls that represent unity, harmony, and family togetherness.
These glutinous balls have a sweet, runny filling contained within a chewy rice coating and are perfect as a smaller dessert after a big meal.
This recipe contains just six ingredients and only takes 45 minutes, an easy and straightforward dessert to complement any meal.
9. Nian gao
Nian Gao, also known as “year cake”, is a type of glutinous rice cake. The cake is eaten to celebrate the idea of climbing higher in the new year, whatever that means to those eating it.
This recipe, using coconut for a sweet and moreish flavour, takes just 25 minutes and involves steaming your cakes to achieve the right texture and taste.
10. Fa gao
Fa gao is another light dessert which, like many foods on this list, is a wish for success in the new year.
Typically made using rice flour, this interesting dessert is made by steaming a sponge cake-like mixture.
This recipe is a great take on a traditional fa gao, using cake flour to create a light and fluffy version of this prosperity-seeking cake.