With Chinese New Year just around the corner, everyone must have made or are making plans for the reunion dinner and/or CNY lunch. Some probably prefer to eat out to save the hassle of cooking and washing up. Some would probably turn to buffet catering to feed a large family. There is also the option of having steamboat where minimal preparation is required. (Read my post here on Ingredients for Steamboat, Easy Soup Bases and the Best Dipping Sauces)
I used to look forward to CNY when I was younger because all the aunts, uncles and cousins would come round my folks’ place to have lunch and Gran would whip out a feast of her signature dishes like curry chicken, fried ngoh hiang, sui kow, chicken in wine with dried lily buds and more. The house was filled with so much noise (in a good way) and laughter then. 21 years down the road, I still wish we could go back to those good old days of having such family gathering and I really miss that feeling of togetherness.
When I prepared my first CNY reunion dinner meal at my new home after I got married, I could really put myself in Gran’s shoes and understand why she’d go through all that trouble for years just for a meal like this. Cooking for her children and grandchildren was truly one of the greatest joys of her life.
I decided to compile some of my recipes for this Chinese New Year Recipes collection. Some of the dishes were inspired by my two grandmothers, one by an aunt and the rest were just what I deemed suitable for the occasion. Nothing too complicated, really. For those of you still stressing over your menu, this might just come in handy for you.
And if you’ve thought of making yu sheng at home for your upcoming lo hei, do check out my Smoked Salmon Yu Sheng Recipe which combines vegetables & fruits for that added crunch and sweetness.
The older folks always say there should be abundance during the new year so while keeping that in mind, I never attempt to scale down my no. of dishes or food portions so there’s always leftovers into the first or second day of CNY, lol – hey that saves time to cook up another meal, alright :p
1. Curry Chicken
I don’t think there’s anything symbolic about curry chicken as a CNY dish but my two grandmas would always cook this during CNY previously. Both versions were different – one in Chinese style and the other in Nonya style – but they were equally mouthwatering. It was always a crowd-favourite because you can dip bread into the sauce or douse it over rice, noodles or bee hoon. In this recipe, I used my favourite A1 curry paste and fresh coconut milk for maximum flavour and fragrance.
Click on the link for my Curry Chicken Recipe.
2. Braised Yam with Roast Pork
I’m sure many families would order roast pork for CNY. While eating it on its own is just as good, why not try using some of it in a different dish to impress your family? This recipe uses a salty and savoury braising sauce which would make the roast pork and yam flavoursome in taste. The yam is a star too with its almost-melt-in-the-mouth texture. Absolutely delicious.
Click on the link for my Braised Yam with Roast Pork Recipe.
3. Hong Kong Style Steamed Fish
年年有余! It is important to steam an entire fish (with head and tail intact) so we will have abundance throughout the year so feel free to replace the cod fish fillet in this recipe to a whole grouper or red snapper – whatever you fancy. The highlight of this recipe lies in the sugar-soy-sauce base and crispy garlic topping that really give fragrance, punch and crunch.
Click on the link for my Hong Kong Style Steamed Fish Recipe.
4. Broccoli with Abalone Slices & Scallops
Abalone is a highly sought-after delicacy especially during the CNY period when prices can range from late $30 to more than $100 per can depending on its origin. In this recipe, the liquid in the abalone can acts as a stock that flavours the entire dish. Instead of using broccoli, you can also use a leafy vegetable like china spinach aka phuay leng.
Click on the link for my Broccoli with Abalone & Scallops Recipe.
5. Pork Dumplings
Jiaozi is probably the most symbolic and significant food for CNY in Chinese culture because it means bidding farewell to the old as we usher in the new. The dumpling is a sign of good luck and prosperity so if you want to ‘huat’ in the new year, have more of them. For a more auspicious presentation, try making the dumplings into ‘ingots’ like what I did for this Chicken Wanton Recipe.
Click on the link for my Pork Dumplings Recipe.
6. Oven Roasted Honey-Glazed Char Siew Recipe
Another crowd-pleaser like roast pork that needs no further introduction. Since CNY is all about 大鱼大肉, just eat your roast meats, as much as you want! For this recipe, there is no use of red food colouring so what you see will be what you’re eating. Tender, juicy meat with a sticky, rich and flavourful sauce. Yum.
Click on the link for my Oven Roasted Honey-Glazed Char Siew Recipe.
7. Stir Fried Broccoli with Straw Mushrooms
I would have easily picked Chap Chye as my choice of vegetables to prepare but since my version of Chap Chye consists of a lot of black (unlucky colour) stuffs like black fungus, chinese mushrooms, etc, I thought I would recommend this clean & bright looking mixed vegetables dish instead. Simple, homely flavours. We definitely need these greens to refresh our palates!
Click on the link for my Stir Fried Broccoli with Straw Mushrooms Recipe.
8. Tau Yu Bak
This was the first dish that I had learnt to cook from my maternal grandmother which is also what she’d cook during CNY every year. Authentic Teochew cooking. I love the braise that’s rich and flavoursome and the fork tender pork belly that just breaks apart effortlessly. Get some steamed mantous too to make kong bak pao. Your guests will definitely love this.
Click on the link for my grandma’s Tau Yu Bak Recipe.
9. Poached Chicken
It’s a must to have a whole chicken with head and tail that symbolises a good beginning and a good ending for the coming year. I’d prepare this exactly the same way like those from chicken rice stalls. The chicken stock can be used to cook rice and/or brew a soup at the same time. Smooth & silky skin; tender & juicy meat. This is chicken au naturel.
Click on the link for my Poached Chicken Recipe.
10. Singapore Chilli Crab Style Prawns
Prawns are a must-have for CNY because its Cantonese name ‘Ha’ (虾) sounds like laughter so it’s supposed to be a very joyful and auspicious dish. I made use of the same chilli sauce that I’d cook crabs in to make this dish. Spicy, tangy, sweet and savoury – I’m sure the older folks and even kids would be won over by this. You definitely need some fried mantous too to mop up that delicious gravy.
Click on the link for my Singapore Chilli Crab Style Prawns Recipe.
11. Salt-Roasted Chicken
While my folks prefer poached chicken as it’s healthier, I like mine salt-roasted instead. This is like restaurant standard roast chicken except that it’s made with store-bought pre-packed spice mix. It’s unbelievably good and really easy to make. Crispy skin on the outside that is packed with so much flavour from the spices. Guaranteed to please your tastebuds.
Click on the link for my Salt-Roasted Chicken Recipe.
12. Fish Balls
This is inspired by my first aunt as she serves up fish ball soup every new year. Firstly I think it’s worth recommending these home-made fish balls because their ball shape represents 圆圆满满. And these balls are no where near those sold outside because these are made entirely from fish meat so they are not only bouncy, they are meaty to the bite too. Try boiling them in chicken stock, add some vegetables and turn it into a soup for the family.
Click on the link for my Fish Balls Recipe.
I hope my recommended recipes above have given you more inspiration to finalise that menu you’ve been holding on to. Remember, it’s not how luxurious the meal has to be, it’s about getting the family together for some bonding time over a table of home-cooked food made with love. Good luck with the planning and here’s wishing all of you a Happy Goat Year in advance! 🙂
Hosting a party or potluck gathering and looking for non-Asian/Chinese dishes to prepare? Check out my 10 Easy Dinner Party Recipes That Will Wow Your Guests.