Certain dishes are said to bring good fortune, longevity, and luck when eaten on Chinese New Year, and as millions around the world celebrate the Year of the Ox, food will play a delicious part in the holiday that’s important to many Asian cultures.
To celebrate the Lunar New Year, food blogger Tiffy Chen shared a dish every day leading up to the holiday with a bit about what each symbolizes.
Phoebe Ba, who came to the U.S. for college and now lives back in China, said she shares as much as possible about her heritage on social media and told ABC News that “food is how Asian people express love and it plays an important role for this festival.”
Chinese American chef Jason Wang of Xian Famous Foods in New York City told ABC News that noodles “represent a long life as a way to bring longevity to those around you.”
His famed restaurant, known for its traditional hand-pulled noodles, serves up an array of delicious dishes perfect for Lunar New Year.
Tiffy’s version of noodles with Taiwanese meat sauce symbolizes good health and long life.
“Health is really important in my culture, so we make sure to have longevity noodles every year. The longer the noodles, the better,” she said. And remember, “never break the noodles or cut them when preparing and eating them; you don’t want to ‘cut your life short.'”
“The dumpling is plump, so it represents a full year, so it’s something that symbolizes how you’re going to have a nice and full year ahead,” Wang said.
Chen reiterated that dumplings are meant to bring wealth in the New Year.
“Dumplings are a traditional lucky dish that symbolizes wealth since it resembles ancient gold ingots. In my culture, the more dumplings you eat during Lunar New Year, the more money you make in the new year,” Chen explained. “Not only are dumplings good luck, but these juicy, delicious dumplings are also the best dumplings you will ever try.”
“Wrapping dumpling is a family tradition,” Chen said of the recipe that has been passed down from her great-grandma.
Another must-have dish for the holiday is whole steamed fish, which Chen said is meant to bring an abundance of wealth in the new year.
She quoted a famous Chinese play on words that means “by having fish you will have surplus overflowing every year.”
Chef Ming Tsai said the tradition is to serve the fish whole and “point the head to the VIP” of the table, “because the tail is for someone who is, well, not the VIP.”
Chen added that the head usually faces the eldest person in the room.
Green Vegetables: Money
Whether it’s spicy stir-fried green beans or adding watercress to the fish, Tsai told ABC News it’s important to get the vibrant veggies incorporated to signify “the color of money.”
(By Kelly McCarthy / ABC News)