Chinese New Year Cuisine

Category: Education

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Chinese New Year Cuisine Jane Toh Michael Luk

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Traditionally, Chinese families would gather for a feast one day before the start of the Lunar New Year. Many Chinese living away from their homes would make special effort to attend this meal with their families, as the Chinese place a lot of emphasis on being reunited with their family members especially for this day. The reunion dinner should be eaten with all immediate family members present as a symbol of strength and unity in the family. Some Chinese make it a point to eat this meal also with their in-laws and extended family members. This is a time to renew and reaffirm family ties. Several foods are consumed to usher in wealth, happiness, and good fortune. Several of the Chinese food names are homophones for words that also mean good things. Reunion Dinner 团 圆 饭 團 圓 飯 Tuányuán fàn

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Jiaozi are one of the major foods eaten during the Chinese New Year. They look like the golden ingots yuan bao used during the Ming Dynasty for money and the name sounds like the word for the earliest paper money, so serving them brings the promise of wealth, good luck and prosperity. Many families eat these at midnight on Chinese New Year's Eve so they have money at the changing of the years. Some cooks will even hide a clean coin in one for the most lucky to find. Jiǎozi 饺子 餃子 Dumpling

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It is traditionally served in Chinese households on the first day of the Chinese New Year, stemming from the old Buddhist practice that one should maintain a vegetarian diet in the first five days of the new year, as a form of self-purification. 罗汉斋 羅漢齋 Luóhàn zhāi Buddha's Delight

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The word for fish is "Yu" which sounds like the words for wish and abundance, thus serving fish means wishing for abundance in the coming year. Fish served in whole, with head and tail attached, symbolizes a good beginning and ending for the year to come. Steamed Fish 蒸鱼 蒸魚 zhēng yú

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Peking duck is a traditional, authentic Chinese dish which represents fidelity. The red color feature of this meaningful favorite stands for happiness. Definitely this roasted delight is a must have on a Chinese New Year's banquet. Peking Duck 烤鸭 烤鴨 Kǎoyā

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Chinese New Year Salad 鱼生 魚生 yú shēng Also known as Lo Hei, this dish is traditionally served on the seventh day of Chinese New Year, which the Chinese celebrate as "everyone's birthday." The higher you toss the salad, the greater your luck and prosperity in the New Year!

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During the Chinese New Year, Mandarin oranges and tangerines are considered traditional symbols of abundance and good fortune. During the two-week celebration, they are frequently displayed as decoration and presented as gifts to friends, relatives, and business associates. 橘子 Mandarin Orange Júzi

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Traditionally it is most popular during Chinese New Year. It is considered good luck to eat nian gao during this time, because "nian gao" is a homonym for "higher year." The Chinese word 粘 (nián), meaning "sticky", is identical in sound to 年, meaning "year", and the word 糕 (gāo), meaning "cake" is identical in sound to 高, meaning "high". As such, eating nian gao has the symbolism of raising oneself higher in each coming year. Sticky Rice Cake 年糕 Niángāo

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