Dumplings are a very significant food for celebrating the Lunar New Year, specifically jiaozi dumpings. In Mandarin, "jiao zi" sounds like a phrase which also means "midnight exchange" – making them the perfect food to symbolise moving from one year to the next at midnight.
For good luck, jiaozi are shaped like traditional silver and gold ingots in the hope that eating them will bring you wealth and prosperity. Whether eating steamed, or fried, or in a broth, dumpling fillings are as diverse as they come. From pork to prawn, vegetables and beef – the only limit is your imagination.
Long, long noodles are the essential to celebrating Lunar New Year. Long noodles are considered to represent a long life. This makes it bad luck to cut or bite the noodles short – instead the etiquette is to slurp the noodles as much as possible if you wish for a long life.
Like with serving a whole fish, whole steamed chicken represents family. The claws are also served, to help those who eat them grasp onto wealth, and eating chicken wings will help you achieve more by "flying higher".
In Mandarin, the word for "fish" also sounds like the word that means "surplus". Serving and eating steamed fish at New Year symbolises a wish for bounty and prosperity. Serving a whole steamed fish symbolises family togetherness.
As with dumplings and noodles, different vegetables have symbolic meaning that makes them a special part of a Lunar New year feast. Lotus seeds, for instance, are a blessing for many children and a healthy family, while seaweed symbolises wealth and fortune. Grapefruit symbolises prosperity, while bamboo shoots represent a long life and a promising future.
Everyone loves a tasty spring roll. Traditionally they're eaten to celebrate the first day of spring. While we're more familiar with fried spring rolls, they're also served baked or steamed. Most commonly filled with pork, Chinese cabbage, carrots, and shiitake they can also be filled with sweet fillings like red bean paste.