Happy Year of the Dragon! The Dragon is known as a particularly auspicious zodiac—and that means abundant food to celebrate. To start the new year on the right foot, families and friends share a large and scrumptious meal. But good eats on the Lunar New Year aren’t just for satisfying the palate—each dish symbolically rings prosperity, good luck and other good wishes for the coming year.
To grab some good fortune for yourself, get a taste of these popular “lucky” foods frequently prepared for the Lunar New Year from five countries across Asia, and eat up for good luck all year round.
1. Banh Day (Vietnam): In this dish, glutinous rice is molded into round rice cakes to symbolize the sky. Another similar rice cake, banh chung, is squared and filled with ground meat and bean paste to represent the earth. First made as offerings to ancestors, they are still served to relatives at family dinners.
2. White-Cut Chicken (China): A staple in every Chinese New Year feast, this fragrant but light chicken is cooked in rice wine, ginger and garlic and garnished with green scallions. The chicken, representative of a phoenix, is thought to bring prosperity and purity to the happy diners.
3. Rice Cake Soup (Korea): Duk guk immerses thinly sliced white rice cakes in a rich beef broth garnished with seaweed strips, fried egg and scallions. No matter how tough the past year might have been, this soup calls for a fresh, new beginning for the new year.
4. Yu Sheng (Singapore): Yu sheng is a salad of paper-thin raw fish, finely shredded fresh vegetables and candied fruits topped with plum sauce and other refreshing spices. A homophone for abundance, it is also thought to bring prosperity in the coming year.
5. Fa Cai (Hong Kong): It’s not the prettiest dish on the table, but black moss with oysters is another Lunar New Year favorite because its name is another lucky homophone—the Cantonese words for the dark, stringy vegetable to the words for prosperity.
What are your favorite Lunar New Year foods? Let us know!