Chinese New Year Recipes – Party Like It’s 4707!

Chinese New Year Recipes

Don’t put away your party shoes just yet! I know you think that the new year celebrations are over, but for many Asians all over the world, the biggest holiday is yet to come! January 26th is the beginning of Chinese New Year, a 15-day long celebration and the start of year 4707 according to the Chinese calendar.

Each year of the Chinese calendar is symbolized by one of twelve zodiac animals, and this year, it’s the Year of the Ox. According to the wise, old sage who created the system thousands of years ago, the ox symbolizes a hardworking, honest animal. What does that mean to us? Hopefully, 2009 will be a year of strength, stability and hard work. Which quite frankly, after the tumulus and erratic Year of the Rat, this is just what we need.

And guess who was born the Year of the Ox? President Obama. Boy, oh boy, I hope the Chinese are right about this strength and stability stuff!

No matter what your ethnicity, I invite you to partake in a few of the food traditions that symbolize abundance, good fortune and prosperity for the coming year. I’m sure we could all use a little more luck, eh?

First things first, though…let’s talk about lucky money before we even get to the food. Red lucky money envelopes (“hong bao” in Chinese) are given by family and close friends to the unmarried younger generation. The amount of money you give really doesn’t matter much, but it’s nice make sure that the money is new and free of wrinkles or stains. Usually, I will visit the bank and ask for new dollar bills to insert into the envelopes. For my children’s classmates, as a fun way to wish them and their families good luck, I will put a two crisp one dollar bills in each envelope and hand them out to the class. By the way, money should always be given in EVEN numbers, except for number that is between 3 and 5.  Yes, I’m playing it safe and being totally superstitious, so I do not want to utter that number that comes after 3 but before 5, because that particular number is very, very bad luck. Sigh, silly Chinese! I know, but HEY, do you blame me? I need all the luck and prosperity I can get this Chinese New Year! Anyways, even numbers are good, odd numbers are for funerals.

When my brother and I were little, we wouldn’t be able to sleep the night before Chinese New Year, as we would huddle together on the bed with the monster Sears catalog propped on our laps, daydreaming of all the fabulous toys to buy with our lucky money! Jay and I used to love visiting our relatives on Chinese New Year, because the wealthy ones would stuff our envelopes with a coupla hundies. $CORE. You can buy packages of red envelopes at any Asian market, the more modern ones have cutesy artwork on them, like Disney characters, Hello Kitty and Pokemon.

To help you celebrate, I’ve compiled my list of favorite Chinese New Year Recipes from around the blogs and on I hope you enjoy!


Chinese New Year Recipes Chinese New Year would not start off right if you didn’t have a stack of Chinese Egg Rolls that represent golden bars. Bring on the prosperity, baby! This is my Mom’s Famous Chinese Egg Rolls recipe – complete with step by step rolling instructions or Vegetable Spring Rolls with video (egg rolls look like gold bars, which symbolize wealth) 
Chinese Potstickers represent prosperity too – the folded dumpling resemble golden ingots. These are really fun to make with your kids or with a couple of friends. I’ve got step-by-step photo instructions on how to make these Chinese Potstickers!These potstickers will surely be served for Chinese New Year at our home. Chinese Potstickers
Fish in Chinese is “yu” and this dish represents abundance or “always having more than enough” in the coming new year. Most Chinese families will serve a whole fish, head and all, but don’t worry, you don’t have to. Fillets are just fine.My Mom’s recipe for Chinese Steamed Fish will show you how to make Chinese restaurant style steamed fish.
Chinese Marbled Tea Eggs are incredibly easy to make, they just require q few hours of soaking time in the soy/tea mixture.These are eaten for Chinese New Year to also represent prosperity.

I love to eat them as a snack!

Chinese Tea Egg Recipe
happy_shrimp_stirfry_recipe Mom calls this dish “Hee Hee Ha Ha” as these red shrimp symbolize happiness for Chinese New Year.Shrimp in Chinese is pronounced “haa” which of course sounds like laughter!

Mom’s recipe for Happy Shrimp Stir Fry is over at my column at Simply Recipes.

RasaMalaysia has a recipe for honeywalnutshrimpwalnutprawns Honey Walnut Shrimp which I think you’ll love – it’s sweet, crunchy and the creamy sauce luxurious. You can never go wrong with her rasamalaysia_bok_choy Baby Bok Choy with Shrimp Stir Fry for Chinese New Year either.

Sunday Nite Dinner has a recipe for Chinese Sticky Rice For Chinese New Year Chinese Sticky Rice that I think I’ll make for my family.

For dessert, these Sesame Balls for Chinese New Year Chocolate Filled Sesame Balls symbolize growing prosperity. Or for a fun cookie, how about making your own chinese_fortune_cookie_chinese_new_year Chinese Fortune Cookies stuffing them with auspicious wishes for the Year of the Ox!

But whatever you do, DO NOT serve chinese_squid not for chinese new year squid for Chinese New Year – called “Yow Yu.” In the olden days, workers would have to travel far from home to work, often bringing personal belongings rolled up in a blanket. When a worker was fired, he was ordered to “yow,” or roll up his blanket, packing his stuff to go home. Serving squid symbolizes being fired in the coming year. If your co-workers or subordinates pleasantly surprises you with a dish of succulent squid on January 26th, be very, very suspicious.
Infographic: What to eat for Chinese New Year!

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Comments 52

  1. Shawn

    Love the recipes – I haven’t made egg rolls in a long time, and it’s great to have a “oooh I didn’t mess up” recipe to refer to.

  2. Helene

    Your recipes have my mouth watering! I have only myself to cook for BUT I’m worth the time it takes to fix some of these..will do! I have some of those red envelopes too, left from my days of living in Hong Kong. Maybe I’ll invite some friends to eat and scatter some on my table.
    Kung Hei Fat Choy!

  3. bb

    Just in time J….we’re invited over to friends for potluck Chinese New Year’s dinner tomorrow, and I came to your site this morning looking for inspiration. I’m also…finally after having it on my to-eat list for about a year and a half…your Baby Back Ribs with Asian Orange-Ginger Glaze. It’s Chinese enough, right?? Oh, thanks for helping…and Happy New Year!

  4. HoneyB

    I love this post!

    I have made the Honey Walnut Shrimp – actually served it with your fried rice recipe (which I am here looking for again as I intend to make it again!) All delicious!

  5. veggiebelly

    It was wonderful to read about the traditions. Its interesting about the even numbers. Like Sara mentioned, in India we give odd numbers. So money gifts are always 51, 101 etc. Thanks for a great list of very yummy recipes. Happy New Year!

  6. Jen Yu

    Gong xi gong xi, shiao jieh (I can say that because I think I’m older than you by a few years). Love this post (love all your posts, really). I’m taking a break before I bao jiao tse, but you make me laugh so much. I wish you and your beautiful family a very prosperous, healthy, happy, and lucky year of the Ox. No one works it like you, hon. You keep me Chinese! (My mother thanks you while simultaneously asking why I never got perfect SAT scores). xxoo BIG BIG hugs.

  7. Scott at Realepicurean

    Just finished my Chinese New Year dinner at the local restaurant – not as impressive as this post, unfortunately. On the plus side, I am a little intoxicated which isn’t a bad thing (except I keep having to press backspace and re-type to correct my bad spelling).

  8. natalie

    happy new year! it’s days like this that i wish i was still living at home pigging out! i’m making eggrolls and a big ol’ vietnamese feast on tuesday and i can’t wait! maybe i’ll start it early! 😉

  9. Jessie

    mmmmm…everything looks so good! I’m gonna try steamed fish and potstickers. Thanks for providing such great recipes.

  10. caroline

    Great post! I love reading about Chinese New Year traditions – I didn’t know about the squid, or about Obama being an Ox! Thanks for sharing. And sharing the recipes.

    Happy New Year!

  11. Eat. Travel. Eat!

    Great photos and information on Chinese New Year! We had some of the items you talked about today :). Agree about the squid; in cantonese squid is called “you yu” and firing people is called “chao you yu”…it’s a coincidence how both are so similar!

  12. TaiwanAmy

    I love love LOVE all of your recipes and gorgeous photos…you offer me inspiration as a celebrity chef specializing in Asian cuisine!

    Thank you 🙂

  13. Dawn in CA

    Happy New Year, Jaden! I’m so happy to have found your blog a few months ago. Personally, I’m not really worried about cooking any of these dishes, since I plan to pack up my entire family and just drop by your place around dinner time. 😉 Kidding! That would be one loooong road trip.

    I love honey walnut shrimp, but alas, I can’t eat dairy products. I will have to figure out a substitute for the condensed milk…

  14. Dallas

    Hi Jaden,

    Thanks for being so informative and sharing your excitement the new year! When I was in elementary school, about half my classmates were chinese, so I learned very early on to look forward to Chinese New Year and eagerly awaited the appearance of the red envelopes in January. I asked all my friends to bring my their empty envelopes if they didn’t want to keep them, as I prized them for their beautiful designs.

  15. Tracy

    Just discovered your blog today, it’s wonderful so much food!

    I heard it’s also unlucky to eat eggs on new years.

  16. FJK

    Don’t suppose there is any way I can get lichee martinis made a mandatory part of the celebration, do you?

  17. Meremere

    I made the pot stickers tonight and they were fantastic. The hubby certainly hopes the year keeps up this delicious! Happy New Year!

  18. shavedicesundays

    Eh? Did I hear you right? I guess I’m a really cheapskate mom b/c I don’t even think about giving red envelopes to the kids’ classmates. Gung Hay Phat Choy to you and the family, Jaden.

  19. rita : )

    HAPPY NEW YEAR from across the pond! too bad, they don’t really have a big celebration here in germany, not like in SF and DC (when i used to live there).

    they all look so good! hubby loves the sticky rice wrapped in banana leaves. so divine! i should have went with my girl friend to shanghai (to visit her family) for new year, just so i can experience the event in its full glory.

  20. Single Guy Chef

    Hey Jaden, Gung Hay Fat Choy! May Year 4707 bring you joy, prosperity, and good health! Man, your spring rolls and pot stickers are folded so perfectly! You’re the master! I bet you had an incredible new year feast!

  21. Chez Us

    Mouth watering, Jaden! They all sound great and I am happy to see a recipe for walnut shrimp, one of my all time favorites!!!!

  22. Cakebrain

    Gee, I never heard about the squid thing…and would probably gladly eat that plate of spicy salty fried squid rings if it were put in front of me!
    Gung hay faat choy! & Sun Neen Fai Lok!
    We just recently celebrated Gung Haggis Faat Choy here in Vancouver (imagine Chinese people in kilts celebrating Robbie Burns’ day with Scottish friends over Dim Sum) and we had of course, haggis in our staffroom…I brought the stick-to-your-ribs pan-fried Neen Goh (New Year’s Cake) made from essentially sugar and glutinous rice flour. Another colleague brought a spicy pig’s ear appetizer and a tripe salad. The whities liked the Chinese stuff way better than the haggis, going to show that Chinese people can make even the most disgusting things taste better than any other ethnic group.

  23. joey

    Happy Chinese New Year!!! Thanks for this fabulous round up of recipes 🙂 They all look awesomely delicious!

    Thanks for the tip on the squid…good to know!

  24. RecipeGirl

    My son’s teacher is Asian so she’s really into teaching the kids about Chinese New Year. He has been so excited to come home and tell me stuff every day this week. We’ve had to have parades around the house each night banging pots and pans to ward off bad spirits. Our Chinese neighbors gave my son a red envelope with $20 in it the other day. Fun holiday 🙂 And all of your food looks delish!

  25. Lynn

    Happy Chinese New Year! How could it help but be happy and prosperous with such a great feast to kick it off? It all looks fabulous!

  26. Angela

    Gung Hay Fot Choy! I went home for the weekend to celebrate with my family and of course really just to eat! = ) Chinese New Year is not the same as when I was little. I wish Giuliani didn’t take away the fireworks for CNY in NYC! It’s not as exciting and crowded as back then. Anyways, I tried making jeen dui this year. I’ve had them in HK for dim sum and with jook without the filling. For some reason the dough balls are still puffy and thin. I couldn’t keep them puffy and thin like them So I was wondering if you would know the secret to it. Or how to make it round like yours…. because mine were more eclipse like.

  27. katie

    I wish you good fortune in the Year of the Ox!
    Wonderful primer on the customs – and the food looks gorgeous. My new area in France seems to be ignoring it… Where I lived before always had lots of great stuff in the supermarkets during the weeks leading up to New Year!

  28. sb

    I seriously love how you present your dishes… the pictures alone make me salivate and wish I had a friend like near by!

  29. Helene Kwong

    Wow, thanks for the round-up of recipes on this post. I know I’m a little late in the comments, but I’ve been following your updates via Twitter for a couple of months now. Can’t wait to buy your cookbook this fall. =) Take care!

    – Helene

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