James Carrier

Celebrate the year of the pig with festive, tasty foods symbolizing luck and goodwill

Molly Watson

Recipes in this story:
Debbie's dumplings
Steamed sole with black bean sauce
Shanghai delight

Why not greet the new year by entertaining at home? New Year foods of all sorts tend to be symbolic, portending good luck, good health, and abundance for the coming year. This tasty and simple menu contains plenty of good luck for those who seek 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. Buy packaged dumplings (like gyoza) or 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)

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