It’s the Year of the Dog! Which lunar new year dish should your zodiac sign eat?
Rat: turnip cake
Turnip cake, or loh bok goh, is traditional dish often served at dim sum houses and at home on New Year’s, because the Chinese word for radish is a homophone for good fortune and prosperity.
Ox: Nian gao
Directly translating to “year cake,” or “new year cake,” nian gao is a sweet, sticky rice cake that is often fried. Nian gao is a homonym for “higher year,” suggesting that each year will be better than the previous. For kids, this means that they will grow taller and for adults, this means advancement in career
Tiger: Fat Gow
Fat gow (or fa gao in Mandarin) is a Chinese spongy cupcake that is made with flour, leavening and sugar. It’s steamed until the top splits into four segments. Again, fat gow sounds like “fat choy,” or “fa cai,” (the same ”fat choy/fa cai” in the most well known Chinese New Year phrase, “Gong hay fat choy/Gong xi fa cai,” which means good fortune and prosperity.
Rabbit: Tang yuan
Tang yuan is a sweet glutinous rice ball with filling inside, usually black sesame or peanut. Tang yuan sounds like tuan yuan, which means family reunion in Chinese.
On special occasions such the New Year, birthdays, and holidays, uncut noodles are consumed to represent longevity. The length of the noodles represents a long and healthy life.
Snake: Taro cake
Taro cake is a very popular snack in Hong Kong, often eaten during the New Year. The word for cake in Chinese (gao) sounds like rising and growth, meaning that the year will be one of continuous growth in all aspects.
Mushroom in Chinese sounds like “ho see”, which means “good things” in Chinese.
During the New Year, a whole fish is usually served during the iconic, big traditional dinner. Fish is yu in Chinese, which means surplus. The phrase nian nian you yu translates to having surplus (in food, wealth, good fortune, etc.) every year.
Round fruit looks like gold coins, which is why during the new year, many households have a setup with oranges or tangerines along with other symbolic fruits and nuts.
Back in the imperial days of China, people used silver ingots as a currency. Dumplings are served during the New Year because they resemble the same boat-like shape, with the two ends turned up.
Chicken, which is now a staple in food, used to be a delicacy in China. Only on special occasions did people eat chicken. It also symbolizes family, since one chicken could feed an entire family.
Pig: Chang nian cai
Chang nian cai, commonly known as jie cai, are mustard greens. They can’t be overcooked, which symbolizes a long and healthy life.