7 Days Before Chinese New Year
Many Chinese homes have an image of the Chinese Kitchen God in their kitchen. One week before Chinese New Year, the Kitchen God is fed something sweet before being burned and replaced with a new paper image. Learn the reason behind the charming custom of Serving Sticky Cake to the Chinese Kitchen God, then try a recipe for Sticky Cake.
New Year's Eve
This is a time for families to come together and feast on symbolic foods such as whole chicken, duck, a whole fish (symbolizing abundance and family unity), long noodles, and of course, Nian Gao. In northern China, families make Chinese dumplings (Jiaozi), to be eaten at midnight.
Steamed Whole Fish
Day 1 - New Year's Day - Buddha's Delight (Jai)
This Buddhist vegetarian dish is traditionally served on the first day of the Chinese New Year, both to cleanse out the body and to honor a Buddhist tradition that nothing living should be killed on the first day of the New Year. Buddha's Delight - basic recipe
Buddha's Delight - a great feature that shows how to prepare the traditional dish with all 18 ingredients, from The Honolulu Star Bulletin
Day 5 - Dumpling Day!
In northern China, it is a custom for people to eat dumplings on the fifth day of the lunar New Year. Jiaozi Recipe
Day 7 - Everyone's Birthday
This day is celebrated as everyman's birthday. A custom is to eat Yu Sheng (Lo Hei in Cantonese)- a raw fish salad with shredded fresh and preserved vegetables, and symbolic ingredients such as peanuts. This is another lucky dish - Lo hei means roughly "to toss up good fortune," while Yu Sheng is a homophone - it means "raw fish" but pronounced a certain way also means "abundant life." The salad is served on a plate in the middle of the table - it is tradition for diners to stand and use their chopsticks to toss and mix the ingredients - the higher the toss, the greater your luck in the coming year!
The origins of this dish date back to a custom by Guangzhou fisherman of eating their catch on the seventh day of the Chinese Spring Festival. Today, Yu Sheng is popular with Chinese communities in Singapore (where the dish as we now know it was developed by chefs in 1964), and Malaysia. You'll find it on many restaurant menus throughout the New Year season.
Yu Sheng – a recipe from Martin Yan, on the Global Gourmet website.
Yu Sheng - with pomelo, pickled radish and jicama, from Reader’s Digest Asia.
Yu Sheng - Learn more about the traditions associated with making and eating Yu Sheng in this feature from the National Library of Singapore.
Day 13 – It's time to take a break from all the feasting – traditionally, on the thirteenth day of the Spring Festival people eat simple, healthy vegetarian food to help cleanse their system.
Day 15 - The Lantern Festival
The Lantern festival marks the end of the Chinese Spring Festival. The traditional food for the Lantern festival is Yuanxiao, sticky rice balls with a sweet or savory filling.
Learn More About the Lantern Festival
Learn More About Symbolic Chinese New Year Food and Recipes