The kitchen is at the heart of all Chinese New Year celebrations, and the Lunar New Year menu is steeped in symbolism and tradition. From longevity noodles to the ‘prosperity toss’ or yee sang, Lunar New Year foods are carefully chosen to bring luck, wealth and good health to all who consume them.
While the Gregorian calendar’s New Year on January 1 is celebrated with sparklers and Champagne, for Chinese New Year, families gather to make a huge batch of Jiaozi (Classic Chinese Dumplings). These delectable dumplings are doubly significant: The words ‘jiao zi’ sound like the word for currency that was used during the Ming Dynasty, as well as the Chinese phrase for “across midnight”, so jiaozi are traditionally made before midnight, and eaten as the clock strikes 12. Plus, their shape is said to resemble gold ingots, so they represent wealth and prosperity for the year ahead.
Much like the gold coin that’s hidden in the Christmas pudding, it’s an ancient Chinese tradition to hide a coin in one of the dumplings, said to bring good fortune to whoever finds it – so long as they don’t chip a tooth when they bite in!
We can’t think of a better way to celebrate our love for family and food than by gathering with our nearest and dearest to cook a batch of dumplings. Try this classic recipe for jiaozi and get your family and friends to lend a hand mixing the filling and folding the dumplings. You can buy ready-made dumpling wrappers to save time, or have a go at making dumplings from scratch.
A popular jiaozi filling is pork and cabbage, but other delicious combinations include prawn and chives, or chicken mince and ginger. For added texture, try adding finely chopped water chestnuts or dried shiitake mushrooms that have been soaked in boiling water. Serve with a dipping sauce of Chinkiang (black vinegar), soy sauce, sesame oil and chilli for a tasty start to the new year.
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