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With Chinese New Year just around the corner, everyone must have made or are making plans for the reunion dinner and/or lunch. Some probably prefer to eat out to save the hassle of cooking and washing up. Some would probably turn to buffet catering to feed a large family. There is also the option of having steamboat where minimal preparation is required.
The older folks would always say that there should be an abundance during the new year; so while keeping that in mind, one should never attempt to scale down on the number of dishes or food portions to ensure that there are always leftovers into the first or second day of Chinese New Year; saves time cooking extra too anyways.
However, the food are not chosen by random; they all have a meaning behind them so it’s important to choose the right dish so that you can bring across the right message .
For those of you still stressing over your menu, this list might just come in handy for you; nothing too complicated.
1. Curry Chicken
Image retrieved from https://www.theburningkitchen.com/chicken-curry-recipe/
A crowd-favorite, this dish can be prepared in two versions; one in Chinese style and the other in Nonya style.
You can dip bread into the sauce or douse it over rice, noodles, or bee hoon.
Aromatic, creamy, mildly spicy yet sweet, the curry sauce is usually prepared using curry paste, fresh coconut milk, and some garlic and onion cloves.
2. Braised Yam with Roast Pork
Images retrieved from https://tasteasianfood.com/pork-belly-taro/
It is given, that many families would order roast pork for Chinese New Year.
However, while eating it on its own is just as good, why not try using some of it in a different dish to impress your family?
Try whipping up a salty and savoury braising sauce which would make the roast pork and yam flavoursome in taste. The yam is a star too with its almost-melt-in-the-mouth texture that would give the dish a whole new dimension.
3. Hong Kong Style Steamed Fish
Image retrieved from https://steamykitchen.com/132-chinese-steamed-fish.html
“年年有余”; What this means in Mandarin is abundance year by year; which always means “money”. In Mandarin, “fish” and “abundance” have the same pronunciation; “yu”, but are written as different Chinese characters. Therefore, Chinese families always use fish to represent abundance when serving Chinese New Year dishes.
It is important to steam an entire fish with the head and tail still intact of course, so that your family will have abundance throughout the year.
A popular choice would be a whole grouper or red snapper; whatever you fancy actually. The highlight of the dish lies in the sugar-soy sauce base and crispy garlic topping that adds fragrance and crunch to it, and packs a punch.
4. Broccoli with Abalone Slices & Scallops
Image retrieved from https://www.springtomorrow.com/broccoli-with-abalone-and-scallops-recipe/
A highly sought-after delicacy especially during the Chinese New Year period, abalone prices can range from late $30 to more than $100 per can depending on its origin.
To make full use of your money, you can use the liquid in the abalone as a stock to flavour the entire dish.
Futhermore, you can also substitute broccoli for any leafy vegetables like China Spinach aka phuay leng.
5. Pork Dumplings
Image retrieved from https://www.thehongkongcookery.com/2013/10/potsticker-pork-dumplings.html
Jiaozi is probably the most symbolic and significant food for this auspicious celebration in Chinese culture, because it means bidding farewell to the old as we usher in the new.
The dumpling is a symbolism for good luck and prosperity, so if you want to ‘huat’ in the new year, have more of them!
For a more felicitous presentation, try making the dumplings into ‘ingots’.
6. Oven Roasted Honey-Glazed Char Siew
Image retrieved from http://3hungrytummies.blogspot.com/2011/10/honey-glazed-char-siu-malaysian-monday.html
Another crowd-pleaser like roast pork that needs no further introduction.
Since CNY is all about大鱼大肉; which means a lavish meal filled with generous amounts of meat and fish; just eat your roast meats as much as you want!
For this dish, there is no use of red food colouring. Hence, what you see will be what you’re eating; tender, juicy meat with a sticky, sweet, rich and flavourful sauce. A heavenly combo.
7. Stir Fried Broccoli with Straw Mushrooms
Image retrieved from https://www.springtomorrow.com/stir-fried-broccoli-with-straw-mushrooms-recipe/
Because Chinese New Year is all about being clean and pure, stir fried broccoli with straw mushrooms would be very suitable when serving vegetable dishes! This is because it is a clean and bright looking vegetable with a light, crisp taste.
Compared to other vegetables such as Chap Chye, a lot of black sauce is used along with ingredients like black fungus and chinese mushrooms; which are also dark colored and considered to be unlucky. Hence, it is best to avoid these options and opt for stir0fried broccoli with straw mushrooms instead.
8. Tau Yu Bak
Image retrieved from https://www.malaysianchinesekitchen.com/kong-tau-yew-braised-pork-soy-sauce/
A popular dish to cook for Chinese New Year, this dish is prepared using authentic Teochew cooking style.
Simply braise the pork belly till it becomes tender, rich and flavorful that it breaks apart effortlessly.
Additionally, you can get some steamed mantous too to make kong bak pao. Your guests will definitely love this.
9. Poached Chicken
Image retrieved from https://thewoksoflife.com/cantonese-poached-chicken-w-ginger-scalliion-oil-bai-qie-ji/
It’s a must to have a whole chicken with head and tail at Chinese New Year dinners. This is because it symbolises a good beginning and a good ending for the coming year.
Simply prepare this dish exactly the same way like preparing those steamed chicken from chicken rice stalls. Afterwards, the chicken stock can be used to cook rice and/or brew a soup at the same time.
Smooth and silky skin encasing tender and juicy meat, this idish will definitely be a crowd favorite at your Chinese New Year dinner!
10. Singapore Chilli Crab Style Prawns
Image retrieved from https://www.thebestsingapore.com/eat-and-drink/best-chilli-crab-in-singapore/
Prawns are a must-have for Chinese New Year because its Cantonese name, ‘Ha’, sounds like laughter so it’s supposed to be a very auspicious dish that symbolizes joy.
To add flavor, use the same chili sauce that is normally used when cooking Singapore Chilli Crab. This would result in a spicy, tangy, sweet and savoury dish that the older folks and kids would be won over by.
You definitely need some fried mantous too to mop up that delicious gravy.
11. Salt-Roasted Chicken
Image retrieved from https://www.splendidtable.org/recipes/salt-roasted-chicken
An alternative to poached chicken, if you prefer something salty and crispy, then a salt-roasted chicken will be the one for you!
To make it easier for you, you can just use store-bought pre-packed spice mix.
The overall result would be a flavorful and rich tender chicken encased in crispy skin that is packed with a myriad of flavors from the spices used.
Your tastebuds would definitely be in for a treat!
12. Fish Balls
Image retrieved from https://www.linsfood.com/chinese-fishballs/
Instead of just serving soup on its own, why not add some fishballs to them for something extra to chew on?
Try boiling them in chicken stock, then add some vegeables and turn them into a soup for the family!
We hope that our recommendations above have given you more inspiration to finalise that menu you’ve been holding on to.
If you would like to know how to flawlessly cook these dishes, then sign up for our cooking classes! Our experienced head chef will guide you throughout the whole class and ensure that bonds are being forged among friends and family through effective and all-inclusive interactions.
Visit https://www.thefunempire.com/cooking-class/ for more information.
Remember that ultimately, it’s not about how luxurious the meal is, it’s about getting the family together for some bonding time over a table of home-cooked food made with love.
Good luck with the planning and here’s wishing all of you a Happy Year of The Rat!