Lunar New Year is here! Aside from being a red affair, it’s also time for feasting to welcome the Year of the Monkey. I mean… spending time with your family and catching up with your extended family.
Unfortunately for some of us, home is probably across the ocean and that means, no binge-eating snacks or devouring your relative’s traditional homemade dishes.
Together, some of us from Vietnam, Malaysia, China and Korea have compiled a list of Lunar New Year dishes that we’re craving.
1. Banh Chung
Xin chào at all my fellow Vietnamese peeps.
Don’t we all miss Banh Chung during Tet? The struggle is real. It’s hard to go on with the New Year’s day without Banh Chung and its lovely mushy texture carved from its pork fat, green beans and yellow rice filling.
Leftovers? Pffft! Pan fry it and it becomes an awesome comfort food.
Where: Malaysia and Singapore
Yeesang is a dish containing strips of raw fish, mixed with a variety of shredded vegetables, tiny Chinese shrimp crackers, and sauces among other things.
“Huat ah! Huat ah!” is the only reminder you need to miss this great competition of tossing a bunch of food stuff up in the air like you just don’t care.
Before a grand feast, every family member is gathered around with their sleeves rolled up and chopsticks in their hands ready to attack this dish.
The higher you are able to toss or lou, the more prosperous you will be for the New Year.
These are Chinese dumplings and they come in a variety of fillings be it meat or vegetable. You can eat it fried or steamed, depending on your choice. They’re soft, savory and not too difficult to make.
What I love about this dish is that everyone can get involved in making it and reminiscing about old memories together.
Tteokguk is a traditional Korean rice cake soup. This dish is often eaten during Seollal (Lunar New Year) and the rice cakes inside are white and coin-shaped. It is believed that the white is meant to clean and purify their mind and body from bad luck.
It’s also thought to look like ancient coins, “So when you eat them, it’s like you’re taking in wealth.” That pretty much sums up the purpose of most of the dishes for the Lunar New Year.
5. Nian gao (Sticky Rice Cake)
Where: China and parts of South East Asia
As Asians, we somehow love our rice cakes. This one, in particular, is made out of glutinous rice and has plenty of stories behind it. The one that I frequently hear about is that it is was created to prevent a monster from eating humans.
The story goes that the monster would hunt for humans for food until one day, some dude decided that it would be clever to make this super sticky rice cake that would prevent the monster from eating anyone else.
With so many mouth-watering choices, it’s hard to not feel homesick. So for those who are celebrating Lunar New Years away for the first time, get some friends and head on down to Chinatown.
Chúc Mừng Năm Mới! Happy Lunar New Year! 新年快乐! 새해 복 많이 받으세요!