Chinese New Year – It’s the time of the year to doll up the home in red, stock up on delicious and traditional confectioneries and to anticipate catch-up sessions with uncles, aunties and cousins you have not met for a long time. While you’re getting ready to usher in the Year of The Monkey, no matter what you do or you don’t, you have to indulge in these 5 must-eats during the CNY period where food takes the center stage!
CNY Must-Eat n°1 | Yu Sheng
In the past, during CNY fishermen living along the coast of Guang Zhou province celebrated the 7th day of the Lunar New Year by eating raw slices of fish. The Chinese word for fish sounds like ‘yu’- which means abundance, surplus and excess. Today, it has evolved into a CNY must-eat dish of potluck consisting of more than ten ingredients- each representing a different auspicious wish -which are tossed in the air to represent the height of progression and advancement in life.
CNY Must-Eat n°2 | Pen Cai
During the late Song Dynasty when Mongol troops invaded the Song China, the Emperor is believed to have fled to the area around Guangdong Province and Hong Kong. As there were insufficient plates to serve food to the Emperor and his army, the locals cooked the best ingredients available and served it on large wooden washbasins. Today, the ingredients of pen cai- which is also known as “Treasure Pot” -are cooked and assembled layer by layer in large earthen or metal pots and enjoyed as a must-eat during festive occasions like CNY.
CNY Must-Eat n°3 | Golden Suckling Pig
In Singapore, it is a tradition for families to gather for reunion dinner on the eve of CNY to enjoy this sumptuous feast of Golden Suckling Pig with lots of catch-up and gossip sessions, which are often followed by an overnight game of mahjong.
CNY Must-Eat n°4 | Abalone
This luxurious dish of marine snails is known in Chinese as bao yu, has a parallel meaning of “assurance” (bao) of a “surplus” (yu) in the year ahead. It is thus popular amongst the businessmen as New Year dish and has gained popularity amongst locals over the recent years despite the hefty price tag.
CNY Must-Eat n°5 | Whole Chicken
Commonly flash-fried or roasted, chicken is served whole with the head and feet still attached is a must-eat to signify completeness, togetherness of the family and prosperity. Although you can have this dish all year round, when shared with the company of your loved ones during the festive CNY season, the whole chicken simply has a unique flavour which cannot be tasted at any other time of the year!