Our Best Lunar New Year Recipes – Food & Wine

November 20, 2022
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The Year of the Tiger starts February 1, when the Lunar New Year is celebrated in Chinese, Taiwanese, Vietnamese, Tibetan, South Korean, Indonesian, Singaporean, and Malaysian communities around the world. Not surprisingly, food is one of the most popular ways to celebrate the holiday, especially with dishes like dumplings, spring rolls, noodles, and whole fish and chicken that symbolize good luck and fortune in the year ahead. Here are a few recipes to help you ring in the Year of the Tiger.
Designer Zang Toi’s supremely crispy spring rolls are filled with a mix of marinated shrimp, ground pork and a handful of colorful julienned vegetables, like carrot, jicama and beans. The fried shallot rings add alluring flavor and crunch to the spring rolls, too, but they’re optional. Toi even makes his own chile sauce to serve as an accompaniment.
At the Manhattan outpost of the Michelin-starred dim sum house Tim Ho Wan, these shrimp dumplings are a top pick. Making the wrappers might take a little extra time, but it is simple to do and well worth the effort.
Tteokguk is a Korean soup of chewy-soft rice cakes cooked in steaming translucent broth and a good-luck dish that carries symbolic significance. The white color of the rice cakes signifies purity, so the soup represents a way to start the year off fresh. And traditionally, when you enjoy your New Year's bowl of rice cake soup, your age increases by one year. Though the soup can be made with chicken, pork, pheasant, or seafood, these days it's typically made with beef.
This traditional Singaporean dish is a savory mix of tasty noodles, Chinese broccoli and pork. Add more vegetables if you prefer to make this heartier without additional meat.
There's good reason to believe that cold sesame noodles were first brought to New York 40 years ago by chef Shorty Tang at Hwa Yuan in Manhattan's Chinatown. Since then, chilled sesame noodles have been a ubiquitous part of Chinese takeout. 2021 Food & Wine Best New Chef Lucas Sin has been serving these noodles at New York City's Junzi since it opened, a favorite thanks to a deeply flavorful, carefully layered sesame sauce made of pure sesame paste, aromatics, and fermented tofu. Finish off the dish with chile oil and it's a classic—but not like one you've had before.
The Chinese word for fish (yu) sounds similar to the Chinese word most closely translated to "abundance," so for her Lunar New Year celebration, Lucky Chow producer Danielle Chang serves fish to usher in prosperity and abundance in the new year. Chang uses light soy sauce in this dish, as it is lighter in color and higher in salt than dark soy sauce, making it ideal for imparting flavor in steamed seafood.
This whole chicken baked in hot salt is the most famous dish of Hakka, in southeast China. Chinese culture scholar and cookbook author Barbara Tropp says that Hakka cooks have one hand in the north and one in the south; the northern hand reaches for garlic, ginger, and an extra shot of rice wine, while the southern hand opts for light-colored sauces and favors steaming over stir-frying. This chicken, while baked in salt, emerges exceedingly juicy and not at all salty. It is served with bold dipping sauces, including a northern-style one made with plenty of fresh ginger. The quality of the bird is what makes or breaks this dish — seek out the best you can find. (Rose-scented rose dew liqueur, mei kuei lu chiew, is available in Chinese liquor stores, but the dish can be made without it.) In 2018, Food & Wine named this recipe one of our 40 best.
This soothing, sweet Chinese dessert soup of rice flour dough balls stuffed with black sesame seeds in a rock sugar–sweetened broth is typically served during reunions because the round rice balls symbolize harmony and togetherness. Lucky Chow producer Danielle Chang likes to make it as a sweet treat for her Lunar New Year celebration. To keep the dough moistened throughout the assembly process, cover it with a damp towel.
Pastry chef Doris Hô-Kane of Ban Bè in Brooklyn uses a microwave to make both the chewy mochi skin and rich black sesame–chocolate filling of her beautiful Bánh Deo (Mochi Mooncakes), which are a fun, festive project for Tết, the Vietnamese New Year celebration. Hồ-Kane's mochi mooncakes use a combination of black tahini and chocolate to create a nutty, smooth, and creamy filling. Black tahini is especially nutty in flavor, but in a pinch, regular tahini will do. You will need a wooden mooncake mold that measures about 1 1/2 inches in diameter for this recipe.

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