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Kung hei fat choi [moved from Boston board]

In my last post, i found out that chicken stuffed with glutinous (sweet) rice was Chinese New year fare. what other chinese dish can be considered a must-have for Chinese New Year. I know of Nian Gao has to be in the dining table, (is it available in the chinatown groceries yet?) I heard Steamed Fish is a must also.
Please tell us your ideal or real chinese new year food selections.

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  1. It ain't Chinese New Year without lo han jai (sometimes known as "Buddhist's Delight").

    1. You need lots of things.

      As you've mentioned, fish is a must. It's supposed to be good luck. Most people generally have a dish of each type of meat, beef, pork, chicken, duck.

      Nian gao is also a traditional dish, and so are "tang yuan" for dessert sometimes.

      At our house, dumplings are a must. When I was little, all of the kids would try and find the one dumpling that was made with sugar. Finding and eating it was supposed to bring good luck in the new year.

      And no Chinese New Year passes without a long night of mah jiang.

      3 Replies
      1. re: ipsedixit

        ipse, what do you mean by "the dumpling that was made with sugar"? Are these pork dumplings?

        1. re: ipsedixit

          Traditionally, the one lucky dumpling was one that had a coin hidden in it. Either way, your teeth are in jeopardy -- from breaking or from decaying ;-)

          1. re: Xiao Yang

            Exactly.

            We stopped using coins because it became too obvious when the filling was nappa cabbage as opposed to Chinese chives.

          1. re: Humbucker

            yes, yes, but never one of my favorites. I always had to have at least one bite, as per tradition and my mom.

            1. re: justagthing

              I enjoy fat choy (it's like black mossy vermicelli) but it's unfortunate that its harvest is not ecologically friendly

              Also shrimp can be served during this occasion.

            2. re: Humbucker

              After reading the wikipedia article on fat choy, no wonder I can't remember anything. Scary. I'm glad that it isn't being used so much any more. My mom pulled the last of her stash out for CNY dinner the other day.

            3. Sweet trays.... candied lotus seeds, winter melon, lotus root. melon seeds.
              We have jai ( veg dish that includes fat choy, dried oysters and lettuce...all of these ingredients sound like something good in chinese) for the new years day dinner. But the family dinner on new years eve we always have a whole fish and a whole chicken...don't know why.

              6 Replies
              1. re: sweetie

                oh and don't forget, oranges. Everyone gets oranges for some reason that I can't recall????

                1. re: justagthing

                  The way you pronounce "mandarin orange" in mandarin sounds like word "gold" so it symbolizes fortune and good luck ... much like the number "4" is bad luck because phonetically it sounds like death.

                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    Actually, it's the pronunciation in Cantonese that's the same - "gam". In Mandarin it's "gan" for the orange and "jin" for gold.

                2. re: sweetie

                  'But the family dinner on new years eve we always have a whole fish and a whole chicken...don't know why.'

                  Its for a good beginning and a good ending for the year.

                  1. re: sweetie

                    candied wintermelon is the best!

                  2. It never occurred to me that rice-stuffed chicken had New Year's connotations, other than it's a good banquet dish. (We are wont to order it year-round in San Fancisco).

                    I think the traditional musts are jiaozi in the north, sweet nian gao in the south, and tang yuan everywhere. At our house, celebrating Spring Festival demands the Shanghainese specialty soup "yan du xian" and sometimes Wuxi New Year's Soup, which contains a whole poached egg in each serving. My wife makes yuanzi anytime between New Year's day and the Lantern Festival.