AS OUR Chinese brothers welcome the Year of the Rooster today, we listed the most sought-after Chinese New Year dishes that are indeed a must-try.
1. Nian gao (Tikoy)
This famous traditional Chinese New Year cake is a dessert often used as an offering before it became a Spring Festival food and symbolizes good luck to eat during the celebration. It also connects to the phrase "nian nian gao sheng," which means "increasing prosperity year after year" and higher position and income.
The Chinese believe that displaying and eating round fruits such as tangerines, oranges, and pomelos during this event promise to bring wealth and luck in the family. This tradition was already injected in the Filipino culture every New Year as it became a norm of gathering different kinds of round fruits that symbolize money. The stems from the way the Chinese words for gold and orange sound alike, while the word for tangerine echoes luck.
3. Fish (Yu)
The Chinese New Year fish dish is "Nian nian you yu," which means "May the year bring prosperity." The character for prosperity is yu or fish. A family buys a whole fish that symbolizes unity and is typically steamed with ginger and a light soy sauce. According to the tradition, it's important to leave leftovers for the next day so that prosperity will continue to overflow.
4. Sweet rice balls (Tang Yuan)
This dessert is usually consumed during the 15th day of the celebration, known as the Yuanxiao Festival, which is also the first night of a full moon that is apparent during the lunar year. There are many ways of cooking it.
In the southern part of China, they're called Tang Yuan and the stuffing is put in last after the dough is made while in the northern China, the rice dumplings are called "Yuanxiao." The filling is made first and rolled onto flour in a bamboo basket. The roundness of the rice balls signifies a complete circle of harmony and a close and tight family relationship.
5. Dumplings (Jiao Zhi)
This dish cannot be taken out from Chinese banquet every New Year's Eve which is eaten at midnight. It has been a custom that dates back to the Ming and Qing Dynasties. The dumpling is shaped like an ingot, which signifies wealth. The saying associated with dumpings, or jiao zhi, is "gen shui jiao zhi," or "ring out the old year and ring in the new." Legend says that the more dumplings you eat during New Year celebration, the more money you can make in the New Year.