Outside Forbidden City, Beijing

This year I am rounding up dishes that are cooked in our house during Chinese New Year. Chinese New Year is a big celebration in our family. During the whole week following the new year, we have guests and food will have to be in abundance or it is very inauspicious not to have house full of food and goodies.

Unfortunately, Yee Sang is not commonly served here. It is an extremely important Chinese New Year dish, the meaning and the value of each ingredient represents. I can’t seem to find out why. Something is really wrong there ..

Besides overflowing of food, there are some basic CNY norms that we have to follow – Chinese families are strict. House has to be decorated with red and golden colors items. Gold fish, pineapples, oranges, golden ships, gold coins, phoenix, dragons, money bags, lantern. In short, all decorative items have to be red or gold and associated (and perceived to be) red, gold or orange. These are believed to be signs that are related to wealth and health. And luck. Boy .. those three words are the most repeated words! And I kinda like them.

There are also some really strange norms. On CNY eve, all the lights in the house has to be turned on all night long. It would be unlucky for the house to be dark on the eve of the new year. There will be no sweeping the floor beginning midnight of the eve. Again, you will be sweeping all the good luck that is coming around the door off. Very bad luck to break anything, starting midnight. There shouldn’t be any empty food containers lying around the house – that is, again, bad luck too. The house has to be full with snacks, drinks, cakes, cookies, food for all the guests who may or may not come for a visit. We have to wear everything new, the unmentionables that is underneath our clothes, to the socks. Every piece of clothing has to be spanking new. And no black or grey clothing items allowed. Once I was told to change my clothes on the new year when our older guests seemed to be unhappy that I wasn’t all mighty red. No crying, no screaming, no arguing, and of course, no lying during the first day of the new year. And the married people are expected to give out red envelopes with money for children. That is the only rule that they seem not to mind changing. The unmarrieds – but successful are also expected to give out money too. So much rules and traditions to follow. It never ceases to amaze me how these ancient traditions are carried out like traffic rules around here. But again, it is traditional values that shape us. We got nothing to lose and really, it is only once a year.

Anyway, back to the food. These are what I had in mind (and my mother’s mind) of what we are going to cook for the next 2 weeks. I guess same as Christmas, when it comes to holiday, we tend to repeat the same dishes every year. We like our comfort food that we enjoy once a year. It is just not the same when the same dish is eaten any other day of the year. It feels kinda less special. Please click on the titles of the dishes to visit individual recipes


Pineapple Tarts

Chocolate Chip Cookies with Cashews

Chocolate Cornflakes

Skippy Peanut Butter Cookies


Longan and Lychee Ice Jelly

Fruit Balls Punch


Vermicelli with Pork Leg Stir Fry


Cantonese Vegetarian Stir Fry


Pork and Crab Chinese Roll – Chun Kien

Braised Pork Belly with Preserved Mustard Cabbage – Mui Choi Khau Yoke


Fried Chicken with Fruit Salt

Chicken Rendang


Fish Ball and Fish Maw Soup

How did all those sound? Now I am very interested in hearing your traditional Chinese New Year dishes! Please share!

PS. Please include the links to your posts if you have already had them in your blogs.

| More |

10 Responses to “Chinese New Year Dishes, the Old and the Older”

  1. 1

    Karen at Globetrotter Diaries — January 19, 2011 @ 8:24 pm

    We don’t always celebrate with all the traditional foods except nian gao was always a favorite. It’s been a few yrs since we’ve really rung in the NY and I’m looking forward to making it an event out of it with my family. I’m thinking of ideas too so I’m glad to see you’re getting the ball rolling!

    • Jun replied: — January 19th, 2011 @ 9:27 pm

      I hope you share your CNY dishes too! Would love to know how Chinese in NY do it! :)

  2. 2

    Dinewithleny — January 19, 2011 @ 9:19 pm

    I love CNY. I do agree, my mom used to cook big batches and just keep eating them for few days. Surprisingly they’re so good. It think it’s the mood of festivities. I never tire of CNY food. My favourite for my family will be my mom’s “chun kien” which is like meat rolls, and my auntie’s best hakka mui choy kau yoke. mmmmmm…….I miss them all.

    • Jun replied: — January 19th, 2011 @ 9:28 pm

      Oh yeahh! I totally forgot about “chun kien” and “khau yoke”. I have both recipes posted here last year. I should proposed to mother to make them again this year!

  3. 3

    Ju — January 20, 2011 @ 3:56 am

    Mine is vegetarian chap chye! As for sweet stuff, definitely pineapple tarts! :D

    • Jun replied: — January 21st, 2011 @ 1:49 am

      Vegetarian cap chye, I think it could be the same with ours! Ditto on the pineapple tarts!

  4. 4

    Christine — January 30, 2011 @ 12:27 pm

    Last year we had jiao zi party, roast pork and xian cai tang. Not too much, since it was only the three of us. Oh and pineapple tarts :)

  5. 5

    pablopabla — February 7, 2011 @ 4:17 am

    Happy New Year Rina! Hope you had a great celebration! We have so many dishes in common. If I were to put all the links here, your anti-spambot will probably kick me out :D

  6. 6

    jelly — March 4, 2012 @ 7:42 pm

    hi,,,,thanks for ur web here,,im just found it,,this is the best recepe in ur we here,every just perfect:)))))))can make that lo pho peng recepe pls…:(((((
    this lo pho peng like the picture here was the best lo pho peng,,,thanks,,,,,

    • Jun replied: — March 12th, 2012 @ 8:06 am

      I think the lo pho pheng recipe would be very hard to come by, the makers guard it with their life!

Leave a Comment