The Chinese culture likes playing with symbols and words, especially during Chinese New Year. Traditional Chinese New Year (CNY) dishes and their ingredients tend to carry symbolic meanings or refer to wishes expressed during this time of the year. We share some easy to prepare traditional Chinese New Year recipes you can serve for lunch or dinner!
1. Steamed Whole Fish
Steamed fish is a must during Chinese New Year as it is an auspicious dish symbolizing abundance. Below is a simple recipe that serves 4.
Preparation: 40 minutes
Whole sea bass or striped bass, cleaned
¼ cup water
3 tbs fresh ginger, julienned
¼ tsp salt
2 scallions, julienned and white and green parts separated
¼ cup light soy sauce
8 sprigs of roughly chopped, fresh cilantro
4 cup canola oil and 2 extra tbs
Fresh white pepper, ground
- Rinse the ready-cleaned fish and shake off any excess water. Transfer to a heatproof plate.
- Assemble your steaming dish, such as a heat-proof plate or wok with a metal steam rack.
- Place the fish in the dish and steam for 9 minutes. Turn off the heat and make sure the fish is cooked through.
- Pour off all the liquid that has accumulated on the plate and spread half the ginger, the cilantro, and green portions of scallion over the fish.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of oil and the rest of the ginger in a saucepan and once the ginger sizzles, add salt, water, white pepper, and soy sauce, and heat until simmering.
- Add the rest of the oil and scallion and stir until the liquid simmers.
Spoon the mixture over the fish and serve hot.
2. Chicken Wantons
When they are fried, they resemble gold ingots which symbolizes wealth for the Chinese family. This recipe makes 12.
Preparation: 20 minutes
¼ lb shrimp, chopped
½ lb ground chicken
¼ tsp salt
1 stalk scallion cut in rings
A dash of fish sauce
½ tsp cornstarch
½ tsp sesame oil
Dash of ground pepper
12 wonton wrappers
For the dipping sauce:
3 TBS Thai sweet chili sauce
1 TBS cilantro leaves, chopped
2 tsp lime juice
Pinch of sesame seeds
- Mix together scallion, cornstarch, shrimp and chicken and add salt, sesame oil, pepper, and fish sauce.
- Wrap wantons with the wrappers.
- Place each wanton wrapper in the palm of your hand and add about half a tablespoon of the filling in the middle.
- Dip your index finger in water and trace around the outer edges of the wrapper.
- Then, fold and pinch edges of the wrapper and seal tightly.
- Deep fry in oil until golden.
3. Braised Yam with Roast Pork Recipe
While you can order a roast pork, why not make one and impress the family with this easy to make recipe?
Ingredients (serves 2-3)
200g roasted pork belly, sliced into bite-size sections
400g yam, peeled & sliced into bite-size sections
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp fermented soy beans (tau cheo), bruised
1 tbsp chinese cooking wine
2 stalks spring onion, cut into 1″ lengths
Sauce: (combine in a bowl)
1 cup water
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp sesame oil
dash of white pepper
- Preheat oven to 180 deg C with fan (or 200 deg C without fan).
- Line a baking tray with aluminium foil and spray surface lightly with a cooking spray.
- Arrange the yam slices on the baking tray and drizzle olive oil on top.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes, flipping over mid-way till the exterior is slightly browned. Alternatively, the yam can be deep fried in vegetable oil. Remove and set aside.
- Heat a little oil in wok or clay pot and saute the minced garlic. Add fermented soy beans and wine.
- Add roast pork belly, yam and sauce.
- Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer till yam softens.
- Stir in spring onions and serve.