This post was sponsored by Ling Ling, all opinions expressed in my post are my own.
Growing up in Hong Kong, Chinese New Year was always my favorite holiday. It was a time to slow down, take a break from school and work, get together with close family and friends, and enjoy great food together. Chinese New Year food traditions make the holiday that much more special!
Now that I have a family of my own, I share this part of my heritage with my daughters by introducing them to some of my favorite Chinese New Year foods. Of course, China is a huge country, and Chinese New Year food traditions can vary quite a bit from region to region. The dishes served by families in Beijing can be completely different from those served by families in Shanghai.
I grew up in Hong Kong, which has its own set of Cantonese culinary traditions, so these are the five Chinese New Year food traditions I enjoy the most:
1. Snacking on roasted watermelon seeds
Some of the best foods are served before people even sit down at the dinner table! In my family, we always have a variety of snacks for people to nibble on before the main meal. Usually served in a circular lacquered wooden box divided into different sections, snacks include more modern options like candies and chocolates, along with more traditional items like candied fruit and roasted watermelon seeds.
2. Making and eating dumplings
One of the Chinese New Year food traditions that can be found throughout China is the custom of making dumplings from scratch. Many families will get together on New Year’s Eve to make home-made dumplings. Dumplings are a symbol of prosperity by Chinese people because they are shaped similarly to ancient Chinese gold ingots. I have to admit though, that my dumpling-making skills are not the best! So just in case of #dumplingfail, I always make sure to stock up on some store-bought dumplings too. Ling Ling’s potstickers are always a hit with the crowd. Made of delicious chicken or pork, wrapped alongside tender vegetables in a mouthwatering dumpling wrapper, these potstickers are seriously delicious. I especially love the signature dipping sauce that each package comes with!
3. Steaming a whole fish
Eating fish is one of the most important Chinese New Year food traditions. In Mandarin, the character for “fish” is pronounced the same way as the character for “surplus.” That’s why it’s considered good luck to eat fish at new year’s, as it will bring you a surplus of money and good fortune for the year. Fish is always steamed whole for the new year, never cut into pieces. And make sure you don’t flip the fish over to eat the other side! It’s considered bad luck. Instead, after the top of the fish has been finished, remove the skeleton to reveal the flesh underneath.
4. Eating sweet glutinous rice cake
By far my favorite food to eat at Chinese New Year is niangao (or nin gou in my native Cantonese). My favorite way to serve them is by beating an egg, dipping the niangao in, then sauteeing it so that it’s crispy on the outside and deliciously gooey on the inside.
5. Enjoying tangerines and oranges
Us Chinese folks are all about symbolism, even down to the type of fruits we eat! One of the widespread Chinese New Year traditions is to eat tangerines and oranges during this season. They are prized for their round and golden appearance, but also because their names are homonyms for positive words. In Mandarin, the character for “orange” is pronounced the same way as the character for “success.”
Start your own Chinese New Year food traditions!
Ling Ling makes it easy for your family to celebrate Chinese New Year too! Every bite of their foods makes you feel like you’re in Asia. The Ling Ling team has collected recipes from China, Japan, Korea, and Thailand in order to let you experience the best of each region. You already know I love their potstickers, but they offer so much more! From five different types of Ling Ling Fried Rice based on authentic Asian-inspired recipes to noodle dishes like Drunken Noodles and Yakisoba Noodles, infused with delicious sauces, succulent proteins, and vegetables, you’re bound to find a dish your family loves. They also offer Yakitori Chicken, Yakiniku Beef, Thai-Style Chicken, Chinese-Style Vegetable and Bibimbap Beef. Click here to find Ling Ling in a store near you.
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About Carmen Sognonvi
Carmen Sognonvi is a luxury family travel content creator at Top Flight Family, named a top 10 family travel Instagram account by Time Out New York and Brit + Co. Her insights on travel have been featured in The Washington Post, INSIDER, Huffington Post, Wanderlust Travel Magazine, TravelPulse, HOTELS Magazine, and more. Carmen firmly believes that you can (and should) travel with your kids from a young age. She offers families practical solutions for travel, as well as tips on how to travel in luxury for less. She lives in New York City with her multiracial and multicultural family of four. Follow her on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
Click here to read Carmen's articles