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Chinese New Year Foods My Family Ate

The New Year's Eve dinner is the year's most important meal. Family gather together and enjoy a feast.


Hey, it's Ye Ye. I just came back from my two months trip to China. I had a great time with my family and ate many excellent foods.


January 22 is the first day of the Chinese New Year, the Year of the Rabbit. The festival celebration lasts for 15 days. The last holiday is the Lantern Festival on February 5.


While we are still in the holiday spirit, I want to introduce some traditional Chinese New Year foods.


My Family's New Year Dinner


Lucky Chinese New Year Foods


Though different parts of China observe different customs and enjoy different food items during the new year, these seven foods are the most common.


Appetizers/Cold Dishes 冷菜

The number of appetizers has to be an even number, like six or eight. We prefer things in pairs.


In the top circle from left to right

Radish Salad

Jellyfish Salad

Pickled Vegetables

Five-Spice Beef


In the bottom circle from left to right

Salted Chicken

Cashew

Lamb Cake

Celtuce Salad


Shrimp

My hometown Suzhou is near Lake Tai, the third largest freshwater lake in China, so we eat a lot of lake fish and shrimp. Stir-fried shell-off shrimp is a must for any important meal. However, sea shrimp has always been the second favorite of my family. We had Kumura shrimp this year.


Fish 鱼/余

"Yu" is fish in mandarin, which sounds like "surplus." We eat fish wishing to have surpluses and a bountiful harvest every year.


Dumplings

Dumplings are traditionally the New Year's food in Northern China, but my family loves them. Why not include them in our menu?


Pork Knuckles


Meat was a luxury item when my parent's generation grew up. It was a popular dish back then. Now it's a symbolic dish. We prefer healthier and lighter dishes.


Bean Sprouts 如意菜 ru yi cai

Bean sprouts are shaped like a jewelry piece in China called "ru yi" 如意, meaning "as one wishes." So we hope everything goes well.


Whole Chicken

Whole chicken symbolizes 'unity' and 'wholeness.' Also, we love chicken and chicken soup in China.


Glutinous Rice Balls


These small rice balls stuffed with sesame seeds and red bean paste are usually cooked in a dessert dish. They symbolize "unity and togetherness." My family likes to fancy it up with gorgon fruit, peach gum, and dates.


What other Chinese New Year or Lunar New Year foods do you know?


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