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Chinese New Year at home

Chinese New Year at home

The next event in our foodie calendars is Chinese New Year. Last year, we made an effort to head into Chinatown in London to soak up the party atmosphere, and I can recall endless rows of hanging red lanterns, banging drums, a playful Chinese dragon and a tasty meal in a simple and authentic Chinese restaurant in the thick of the action. This year, we’re being slightly less adventurous and staying at home to celebrate, but inspired by our experiences last year we’re looking forward to a Chinese-themed evening with plenty of great food and cheer to mark the year of the horse.

Part of the huge appeal of Chinese food around the world is the almost endless array of dishes and recipes to try, inspired by many regional variations, such as the Cantonese, Szechuan and Mongolian cuisines. Cleansing soups, bite-sized dumplings, sticky ribs, crispy duck, slow-braised casseroles, steamed fish, sizzling stir-fries, often accompanied by the staples of noodles and rice. Chinese food is almost always complimented with fresh vegetables and aromatics, delicious flavours of ginger, chilli, coriander, spring onions and garlic. It’s almost impossible to pick out a favourite dish, although for me, crispy Peking duck in pancakes is a must to start with, or perhaps some finger-licking salt and pepper spare ribs. I also love the fact that dim sum translates as “touch your heart,” denoting the individually handmade dumplings or buns, usually steamed or fried.

Possibly one of the easiest dishes and methods of cooking Chinese food is stir-frying. Almost any slithers of meat or seafood, such as king prawns, can be flash-fried in a wok using a dash of sesame oil, soy sauce or oyster sauce, and a good handful of vegetables. Remember to try to have everything prepared to hand and chopped to roughly the same size before cooking in a seasoned wok on a very high heat. Try not to overcrowd the pan – remember you can batch-cook your meat and then set some of it aside until it is all sealed. If you can marinade your meat in advance it will stay tender and moist. Why not try coating your meat in a little cornflour/cornstarch mixed with water and a dash of Chinese rice wine and soy? Or, watch Jamie making a classic chicken chow mein (chicken with noodles) for some more home-cooking tips. Don’t forget to use “half-decent” chicken!

Red is considered to be a lucky colour for Chinese New Year, so lay out some red napkins, small bowls, chopsticks and the all-important fortune cookies. To drink, serve green leaf or jasmine tea or even a cup of feel good chicken broth – since drinking soup with your meal is a common Chinese custom to aid digestion and boost energy levels.

Wishing you all a Happy Chinese New Year! Let me know what you’ll be doing to mark the occasion.

A Guide to Celebrating the Chinese Lunar New Year at Home

This Friday, February 12, is Lunar New Year or, as I like to call it, Thanksgiving part deux. Sure, it kicks off the new year but, like Thanksgiving, it's really about having family come together and celebrate with lots of good food. The holiday itself is observed in many countries throughout Asia, from Korea to China to Vietnam, and each has slightly different traditions. Here are a few of the practices most common in China (because traditions vary from region to region, it's far from an exhaustive list, though).

Preparing for the New Year

Giving your home a good cleaning a day or two before the New Year is a common practice. New Year's day itself is all about celebrating, so no cleaning should be done then. Decorations should be in bright, cheerful colors. Citruses such as tangerines, oranges, and pomelos are set on a platter and put on display—they symbolize prosperity and good luck.

In Chinese families, there's usually a red platter filled with dried sweet fruits such as lotus seeds, lotus root, melon seeds, and coconut, and families and friends who visit the house are encouraged to enjoy them. My mom would also always place two red envelopes on the platter as colorful decoration.


Every culture has them, and during the Lunar New Year it's even more important to know what they are. In general, it's bad luck to mention death, pain, debt, and basically anything else that's unpleasant. On the flip side, it's good to dress up in cheerful colors, like red, and new clothing. In Chinese culture, it's bad luck to wash your hair the day of the New Year, so shampooing must be done the night before. Also, there should be no yelling and shouting, so keep those tempers in check! Nobody wants to start the new year with a fight.

The Food

Now that we've covered all that other stuff, let's get to what we're really interested in: the food!

Mealtime is one of the most important parts of the Lunar New Year celebrations. But unlike the turkey served for Thanksgiving, there really isn't one main dish that defines the Lunar New Year. We have some popular recipes for the Chinese Lunar New Year if you want to get cooking right away, but it's worth noting that different countries serve different cuisines, and different regions, specifically in China, also have their own local dishes for the celebration.

Dumplings wrapped with wheat flour wrappers are a popular item for Northern Chinese families, while in the Southern regions and Hong Kong, families tend to make turnip cake (law bok gow), a savory and wonderfully glutinous dish that's made with daikon radish and studded with various types of pork and shrimp. Rice cake, meanwhile, is popular in both Korea and China during the New Year. In China, depending on what region you're in, rice cake could be white or amber in color, and either steamed or stir-fried.

If anything, whole fish is the most common sight, and it's often a centerpiece of the New Year table—especially at Reunion dinner, which is held on New Year's eve. My mom used to make two simple, steamed whole fish that she'd top with scallions, ginger, and cilantro one we'd eat for Reunion dinner, the other would be leftovers for New Year's day—it was considered good luck to have leftovers going into the new year. I love this steamed whole fish recipe, similar to my mother's, but with garlic and fermented black beans added for even more flavor.

One final dish that I love to have on the New Year's table is mushrooms with tofu and mustard greens. It's a vegetarian dish that's my own spin on a classic New Year's offering: abalone with dried oysters and shiitake. Mine doesn't have seafood like the original, but I promise it's just as tasty.

Traditions, superstitions, and food may vary from one country and region to the next, but the important part of all these celebrations is family and friends. So make sure to decorate your space with a platter of citrus, wear something red or colorful, have a feast, and celebrate with family and friends you love.

1. Glynn Purnell's Duck Spring Rolls


100g shredded carrot
100g shredded savoy cabbage
50g shredded spring onions
2 tbsp coconut oil
2 tbsp Wing Yip Hoisin Sauce
25g sesame seeds
1 tbsp. five spice
2 tsp chopped coriander
100g beansprouts
1 tbsp red pepper mix
150g confit duck leg &ndash shredded (can also use cooked chicken leg or beef)
10 sheets spring roll pastry
1 egg white
1 tsp cornflour

1. In a pan, sweat down the carrots, cabbage and spring onion in coconut oil.

2. When slightly broken down add the hoisin sauce, sesame seeds, five spice, coriander, beansprouts, pepper mix and shredded duck legs.

3. Lay out one sheet of pastry. Combine the egg white and cornflour with a little water to create a paste. Brush the pastry sheet with the paste.

4. Starting at one edge pack a strip of duck mixture &ndash do not reach the edge of the pastry.

5. Fold in both sides covering the edges of the mixture and then roll the pastry away from you keeping the mixture tightly wrapped. Repeat until all the mixture has been used.

6. Fry at 180°C until golden (can also be frozen to be used at a later date).

Pot Stickers (Chinese Dumplings)

Potstickers are traditionally made with pork, but these dumplings feature ground shrimp and beef. The recipe makes a lot of filling, so make extra dumplings (and don't forget to buy extra gyoza wrappers) for future meals or unexpected guests. To store extras, place the prepared potstickers on a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze, then transfer them to a zip-top plastic bag, label, and date. You can fry them from frozen (and add a little extra cooking time) or defrost them for a few minutes on the countertop. Serve these dumplings with soy sauce or whip up an Easy Asian Dipping Sauce.

12 Easy And Quick Dishes For Chinese New Year

1. Braised Chicken with Mushrooms

Include a classic northern Chinese dish to the menu with a homemade braised chicken and a bit of mushroom. Considered as one of the tastiest dishes for Chinese New Year, this is sure to satisfy your family’s tastebuds with its savoury flavour and strong soy sauce base.

You can expect braised chicken to come out meaty and juicy. But the highlight here is definitely the mushrooms as they also absorb flavours of the dish.

While it’s recommended that you use dried shiitake for this recipe, you can also choose to use fresh mushrooms to tweak the flavour.

Check out the entire recipe here.

2. Cantonese Roast Chicken

You’re probably used to ordering a good Cantonese Roast Chicken while dining out. But now you can also try to make an Asian style chicken in your own kitchen.

The key here is cooking it at a higher temperature than you would normally when roasting chicken. You can go up to 400 F. This temperature would help brown the chicken and crisp its skin just right, while maintaining moistness of its tender meat.

Check out the entire recipe here.

3. Authentic Chinese Steamed Fish

For a dish with few ingredients, you can choose the classic authentic Chinese steamed fish.

With soy sauce seasoning to make it sweet and savoury, it’s also important that this fish is cooked shortly in a steamer. This will keep its meaty insides tender and moist.

It may be a simple dish to make but with the right seasoning and carefully timed cooking, you can make it your own.

Check out the entire recipe here.

4. Sichuan Fish with Pickled Mustard Greens

Add a good plate of Sichuan fish with pickled mustard greens to your Lunar New Year dinner. This dish can be easily done in just under 40 minutes, which gives you more time to handle your other festive plans.

You can choose to stick with the usual catfish for your dish, but if you also want to try it out with other types of fish such as tilapia then, by all means, go ahead!

Just make sure that you use the right type of pickle and that you don’t leave out a herb-infused hot oil to pour over the fish. This Chinese cooking technique could really help bring out the flavours of your dish.

Check out the entire recipe here.

5. Sichuan Chicken in Red Oil Sauce

You can create your own version of a classic Sichuan chicken smothered in spicy red oil sauce that your loved ones will surely ask for seconds. Adding it to your personal menu of dishes for Chinese New Year will be a great choice.

To make the dish almost exactly like the ones you order in Chinese restaurants, you’ll need to prepare a good homemade chilli oil and flavoured sweet soy sauce to really bring out a mouthwatering sauce just like the literal translation of its name “saliva chicken.”

Check out the entire recipe here.

6. Cantonese Chicken Egg Roll

As egg rolls are normally called “spring rolls” in China, this dish is great to prepare during Chinese New Year.

With the right filling and the proper egg roll wrapper, you can make your own Cantonese chicken egg roll in the comfort of your own home.

If you use pork, ground turkey, shiitake mushrooms and bamboo shoots for your filling, you are sure to have tenderer and juicier chicken egg roll. Adding a bit of chicken broth and a cornstarch slurry afterwards will complete your dish.

Check out the entire recipe here.

7. Chinese Scallion Pancakes

Prepare a few festive snacks for your relatives during the reunion and make your own Chinese scallion pancakes. Even your kids will surely like its crunchiness and flaky layers.

With basic ingredients such as all-purpose flour, vegetable oil and green onion, you can make your own crispy scallion pancakes at home. Adding extra green onion can give your dish a more aromatic flavour.

Check out the entire recipe here.

8. Sticky Rice Cake with Red Bean Paste

Moving on to yummy desserts to prepare for Chinese New Year, you can also try sticky rice cakes with sweet and moist red bean paste for the filling.

With a crispy outing and sweet gooey insides, these rice cakes can make the perfect conclusion for your reunion dinner.

Not only is it a tasty Lunar New Year snack, but it’s also a healthy option to indulge in during your festivities.

For this sticky treat, you will only need four main ingredients including glutinous rice flour, red bean paste, vegetable oil and white roasted sesame seeds.

Check out the entire recipe here.

9. 4-Ingredient No-Churn Black Sesame Ice Cream

Instead of the usual sugary ice cream, serve scoops of black sesame ice cream as the conclusion of the dishes you’ve prepared for Chinese New Year celebrations.

With just four main ingredients, you can make your own no-churn ice cream.

All you will need are roasted black sesame seeds, sweetened condensed milk, cold heavy cream and just a pinch of salt. You won’t even need an ice cream machine to complete your own black sesame ice cream as you can simply freeze it for one or two days.

Check out the entire recipe here.

10. Chinese Walnut Cookies

Kids are sure to enjoy these Chinese walnut cookies. They are crispy and definitely yummy to snack on during Chinese New Year.

Not only are they delicious, but they are also made with healthy ingredients for a guilt-free snack time.

The sweet walnut aromatic cookies may take some time to make, but it will be all worth it!

Check out the entire recipe here.

11. Quinoa Sesame Brittle

This is a nutritious treat that you can happily snack on with no regrets. Quinoa sesame brittle can be quite addictive, but worry not, it can be made with only 150 calories per serving.

The best part is that it only requires 10 minutes of active cooking time! You just need to mix up the ingredients, heat it up then add on the liquid ingredients then after mixing again, just pop it on the oven. After that, you’re ready to share it with your entire family for Chinese New Year.

Check out the entire recipe here.

12. Ginger Creme Brûlée

We know creme brûlée is originally a French dessert but with a bit of Asian tweaking, you’ll find that it’s also a great treat to enjoy during the Lunar New Year.

This ginger creme brûlée made with Asian style contains only half the amount of sugar usually put in for this dessert and will need blending of a whole lot of whole milk.

Top it with summer berries and you have yourself a creamy custard creme brûlée with a much lighter texture.

Did You Make Any of These Popular Chinese New Year Recipes?

Please leave a comment and rating below, and let me know what you thought of this round up of Chinese new year recipes. Be sure to snap a picture and tag me on Instagram @aheadofthyme or share it on the Pinterest pin so that I can follow along.

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Celebrate the Chinese New Year at Home the Panda Express Way

Make your own Chinese New Year feast at home with Panda Express recipes.

— -- In America, we may celebrate the New Year with a party, midnight kiss and flimsy resolutions, but that's nothing compared to how the Chinese welcome the beginning of the lunar calendar.

Celebrated about a month or so after the solar New Year (this year on Feb. 19 for the Year of the Sheep), the Chinese New Year is extremely important to the Chinese culture (as well as other cultures in the Far East), with people taking time out to eat lucky foods, spend time with family and friends, clean the house, give gifts in red envelopes, set off fireworks, decorate to the nines and more.

With Panda Express' Chinese heritage -- founders Peggy and Andrew Cherng started the company more than 40 years ago and still own and operate it -- the Chinese chain restaurant has always celebrated the New Year in a big way, and this year is no different. The 1,700 locations worldwide will feature firecracker chicken, an entrée symbolic of the holiday.

“Firecrackers are associated with Chinese New Year because the loud noises they make are believed to scare away any evil spirits that could bring bad luck in the coming year,” Peggy Cherng told ABC News. “We are also offering guests a traditional red envelope with a special gift inside.”

Red envelopes are a way of passing along good wishes and good fortune, according to Cherng, and families often give each other gifts in red packages. Employees will receive gifts that way, and the red envelope for guests will include a free firecracker chicken breast entrée and Pepsi on an additional visit before March 10.

Foods take on special meaning around the Chinese New Year. Egg rolls signify wealth because they resemble gold bars. The Chinese word for fish -- yu -- sounds like the word for abundance, so an excess of fish is eaten to symbolize prosperity and good fortune in the coming year. (It’s important, though, not to eat all the fish so there is extra prosperity for the year to follow.) Tangerines and oranges represent good luck and wealth. Long, uncut noodles symbolize a long life. Mixed vegetables represent family togetherness and harmony.

“For those new to the holiday, a festive meal with family and friends with some of the symbolic dishes is the best way to celebrate at home,” Cherng said. “Take some time to think about all the ways in which you are fortunate, because good fortune can take on so many forms, some more obvious and some less so.”

To make your own Chinese New Year feast at home, try the recipes below from Panda Express.

Chinese New Year recipes: How the author of a Chinese cookbook celebrates Lunar New Year

Bee Yinn Low, the food blogger behind Rasa Malaysia and the author of "Easy Chinese Recipes Family Favorites From Dim Sum to Kung Pao", says Chinese New Year is extra special this year. That’s because 2020 is the start of a new decade, and this year is the year of the rat, which is the first year in the 12-year cycle of the Chinese zodiac.

In Chinese culture, the new year begins on the first new moon of the lunar calendar, which falls on January 25 this year. The celebration continues for 15 days.

Low says the reunion dinner, held the day before the new year starts, is the biggest feast of the year. “It’s a huge celebration,” she says. “The family all comes back and gathers together.”

The first two days of the new year are spent visiting family and friends, and the adults give money to the children, typically in red envelopes. On the 15th day people often celebrate by dining in a restaurant together.

Here, Low shares accessible versions of some of her favorite recipes, and says it’s common to make dishes like these anytime during the 15-day celebration. “They mean something — fortune, longevity, health. In the 15 days you want to eat something that will bring you good luck,” she says. “It’s better to follow the tradition than to break it.”

Boiled dumplings look like pouches of money, and their name in Chinese sounds like a name for ancient paper money. In some households, a shiny new coin is placed in the filling of one dumpling, bringing extra fortune to the one who bites into it. Check out this recipe to make Debbie’s dumplings

Fish is served because the Chinese word for fish sounds like “having enough to spare.” It is left whole like this Steamed sole with black bean sauce to avoid cutting the family’s good luck for the year, and a little is left behind to ensure that good fortune lasts throughout the year.

According to Chinese tradition, the long noodles in Shanghai delight will guarantee everyone at the table a long life. Add sweet lotus root (symbolizing abundance) or lotus seed cakes (symbolizing fertility) from a Chinese bakery and candy (for sweetness in the new year) for dessert.

If you are lucky enough to be invited to a Chinese New Year celebration, don’t forget to bring tangerines and oranges, these traditional offerings to hosts symbolize joy and wealth.

Other traditional foods and their symbolic meaning:

Turnips (good omens) Garlic chives (everlasting) Lettuce (growing wealth) Duck (fidelity) Eggs (fertility) Oysters (good business) Seaweed (wealth)

Celebrate Chinese New Year With 8 Good Luck Recipes

Chinese New Year celebrations are filled with time-honored traditions, fun festivals and superstitious beliefs, but the one thing that connects all of them and brings everyone together is the food. But it's not just any food — it's good luck food.

The dishes served during Chinese New Year, which lands on February 10 this year, are eaten because of what the ingredients signify or sometimes what the Chinese names can mean. You'll find seafood, chicken, duck, pork, sausage, noodles and lots of vegetables on the traditional menu. These foods can symbolize abundance, prosperity, togetherness, wealth and more.

Noodles, for example should be served whole and not cut, because that way they symbolize longevity. The same goes for the custom of serving whole head-on fish. Then there are those foods that symbolize family reunion and togetherness like oversized lion's head meatballs and hot pot, a bowl of boiling broth designed for dipping into with an array of different ingredients that cook right in the liquid. It's the perfect communal dish. And probably the most recognizable of Chinese New Year dishes are dumplings or shumai (pictured above), which represent wealth. So it's worth eating a lot of those if you hope to be rich in the Chinese New Year!

If you're looking for some ideas on what to cook for Chinese New Year, FN Dish has some great recipes listed below. Though good luck isn't necessarily guaranteed, it's at least worth eating these foods just in case.

The Importance of Chinese New Year Food Traditions

Even the number of dishes on the table matters for this holiday.

Related To:


Mandarin Oranges and Red Envelope on Red Background. Chinese New Year.

It always starts with food. Every Chinese New Year, the first thing I would see when I woke up was an orange and a hongbāo (red envelope) filled with money resting beside my bed. My mom would strategically place them on my side table the night before while I was sleeping. It’s believed that oranges bring good luck and good fortune and are a symbol of happiness and abundance. I always thought that waking up with these positive affirmations (and a little extra cash) was a great way to celebrate the new year.

Along with oranges, my parents would leave us with other goodies too — like almond cookies, moon cakes, Jin Jin Lychee Coconut Jelly Cups, White Rabbit candies and strawberry flavored Red Lucky Candy. I remember bringing these treats into school with me and showing them off to all my friends who didn’t celebrate the holiday. They loved the intricate designs on the moon cakes and were fascinated by the White Rabbit candy, especially because you can eat the translucent sheet of rice paper that it comes wrapped in. In fact, these treats were one of the main reasons why my best friend and I started doing yearly Chinese New Year presentations in class: to show and teach our culture. We would go through the history, the traditions and of course all the yummy foods that come with it. Our classmates would perk up when we started passing out our favorite Chinese New Year snacks and that made me feel even more proud that I was able to share a part of my heritage through food.

Watch the video: vlog 27:Home Alone. 2021 Chinese New Year. MhaAnns Channel (September 2021).