Chinese New Year Cooking Traditions

Chinese New Year has a number of food traditions. How many will you recognise?

happy chinese new year

Certain dishes are eaten during the Chinese New Year for their symbolic meaning. Food considered lucky is served during the festival season, especially New Year’s Eve, which is believed to bring good luck for the coming year. The auspicious symbolism of these foods is based on their pronunciations or appearance.

The most common Chinese New Year foods include dumplings, fish, spring rolls, and niangao.


In Chinese, “fish” sounds like the word ‘surplus’. Chinese people always like to have a surplus at the end of the year, because they think if they have managed to save something at the end of the year, then they can make more in the next year.cmg fish chinese new year

Eating Crucian carp – The first character of ‘Crucian carp’ jìyú sounds like the Chinese word Jí or lucky. For this reason eating Crucian carp is considered to bring good luck for the next year.

Eating Chinese mud carp – The first part of the Chinese for “mud carp” is pronounced like the word for gifts. So Chinese people think eating mud carp during the Chinese New Year symbolizes wishing for good fortune.

Eating Catfish – The Chinese for “catfish” niányú or nyen-yoo sounds like nián yú meaning ‘year surplus’. So eating catfish is a wish for a bountiful new year.

Eating two fish – one on New Year’s Eve and one on New Year’s Day, (if written in a certain way) sounds like a wish for a surplus year-after-year.

Eating Abalone – An interesting twist on this tradition is incorporating abalone into your Chinese New Year feast. With its sweet and tender flesh, enjoying Chinse New Year with Jade Tiger Abalone® provides a sweet start to the year.

CMG ‘s Jade Tiger Abalone® is distinguished by its green shell, tiger stripe and natural white flesh. These qualities are unique to this breed of abalone and exclusive to CMG Australia. Jade Tiger Abalone® provides an unmatched abalone dining experience and is highly-valued by Chinese customers.

cmg jade tiger abalone sweet

Chinese Dumplings

With a history of more than 1,800 years, dumplings are a classic Chinese food, traditionally eaten on Chinese New Year’s Eve, widely popular in China, especially in Northern China.


chinese dumplings

Chinese dumplings can be made to look like Chinese silver ingots (which are not bars, but boat-shaped, oval, and turned up at the two ends). Legend has it that the more dumplings you eat during the New Year celebrations, the more money you can make in the New Year.

Spring rolls

Spring rolls get their name because they are traditionally eaten during the Spring Festival. It is a dish especially popular in China’s East.

chinese spring rolls

Spring rolls are a Cantonese dim sum dish of cylindrical-shaped rolls filled with vegetables, meat, or something sweet. Fillings are wrapped in thin dough wrappers, then fried to give the spring rolls their golden-yellow colour.

A Chinese saying: ‘A ton of gold’ (because fried spring rolls look like gold bars), means a wish for prosperity in the next year.

Glutinous Rice Cake

The main ingredients of “niangao” are sticky rice, sugar, chestnuts, Chinese dates, and lotus leaves.

glutinous rice cake

In Chinese, niangao literally broken down means “‘getting higher year-on-year”‘. To the Chinese, this means that the prosperity of your business will increase along with prosperity in your personal life.


Sweet Rice Balls

Tangyuan is the main food for China’s Lantern Festival, however, in Southern China, people eat them throughout the Spring Festival.

sweet rice ballsThe pronunciation and round shape of Tangyuan are associated with reunion and being together. That’s why they are a favourite of the Chinese during the New Year celebration, as people spend time with their loved ones at this special time.

We wish our followers a happy, healthy new year!

May it be full of new beginnings and fresh – just like our seafood!

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