Lunar New Year Dishes Around The World
Jan 31, 2024
For Southeast Asians, the Lunar New Year is the most vibrant and joyous time of the year. It is a time when, besides loved ones coming together, a surfeit of traditional dishes assemble for the reunion dinner. These delicious fares not only hold special meanings but also play significant roles in the culture of each country that celebrates it.
Keep reading to discover traditional Lunar dishes savored by people around the world!
For the Chinese people, steamed whole fish is a popular dish as the reunion dinner’s centerpiece. In Chinese, “fish” (鱼 Yú ) sounds like “surplus” which is something Chinese people like to have at the end of every year because they believe that if they manage to save then, they can make even more money in the next year. The head and tail will only be eaten at the beginning of the year in hopes that the year will start and end with a surplus. The fish would also be left with some leftovers to express its auspicious meaning further!
To the Vietnamese people, the traditional Chung Cake isn’t just a symbolic dish but a special opportunity for the family to make them together. Family members would sit around a fire and tell each other past stories and wishes for the coming year. The dish is composed of glutinous rice, pork meat, and mung beans wrapped into square parcels with bamboo leaves–symbolizing the ground expressing gratitude to the ancestors, the earth, and the sky.
Tteokguk is enjoyed for breakfast on Lunar New Year’s day and is a hearty broth with rice cakes, sliced vegetables, mushrooms, and eggs. Its rice cakes are oval-shaped which resemble coins, expressing wishes for wealth. The Koreans would ‘turn a year older’ on New Year’s day when they finish their bowl of Tteokguk, so children are said to eat multiple servings to gain seniority over their peers.
Malaysia and Singapore
On the 7th day of the Lunar New Year, a custom called ‘Renri’ is celebrated to mark ‘the birthday of man’. People would become a year older on this day and would toss Yusheng in a ritual called Lou Hei. The dish is a colorful medley of raw fish, shredded vegetables, pomelo, peanuts, and crackers accompanied by plum sauce. The Lou Hei—-which means ‘to rise’--would have everyone stand around the table to toss the dish up high, with the highest one to achieve rising prosperity.