What are you cooking for Chinese New Year?

This Saturday is Chinese New Year and the beginning of the Year of the Rooster. Often times, the big ‘reunion meal’ on Chinese New Year eve falls on a weekday and its hard to find time to cook anything proper for the occasion. This year its Friday, so while its a weekday, I’d love to be able to cook something a little more celebratory. The meal is similar in meaning to the Thanksgiving and Christmas feasts where families gather.

I am curious if folks from around the world cook anything specific for the occasion. I am a bit familiar to how the Cantonese celebrate in dishes but not familiar with dishes from other culture or region.

I am probably cooking:

  • a rice ovalette dish with stock, napa cabbage, pork, shitake mushroom and rice ovalette.
  • steamed live fish, assuming I can get my hands on one amidst the madness in Asian grocery store on CNY eve.
  • chicken (maybe)
  • dessert 1: sticky rice balls
  • dessert 2: tangerine/ pomelo

Some other dishes that I can think of are:

Hair vegetable with oysters- though someone told me this fungus (hair vegetable) is over-harvested in Mongolia?

Any other dishes else folks can think of (that are hopefully not overly elaborate)?

Happy new year and happy eating!



Vietnamese traditions. Not my pictures.

Banh chung. Sticky rice, mung beans, & fatty pork pressed into a square and wrapped with banana leaves. Served with various pickles. Kids like it just dipped in sugar.

Banh Tet (same same but different)

Nem chua (cured fermented sausage - traditionally pork but some afraid of “raw” pork now use beef)

Thit kho chung (caramel braised pork & egg)

Since what you do during the New Year celebration will set the tone for the rest of the year, you don’t want to do any “chore” type activities including cooking. Thus, all the cooking and preparing is done before the new year. So the foods above can be prepared ahead of time and kept for a long time. The braised pork is often done in huge batches:

All photos from Google Images.


Hi sck, Happy CNY!!

We celebrated early with a traditional combination dish at a nearby Hong Kong restaurant. I think you are familiar with this celebratory dish.

Abalone, scallops, shrimp, duck, chicken, duck web, pork cracklings, sea cucumber, shiitake, wood ear, bamboo shoot, fish maw, mochi/fish paste, dried oysters, taro, lotus root, and probably more.

It was fun to hover over the steaming pot and celebrate with friends and family.

Dessert was takeaway from a extremely popular shop en route back to our hotel. Wife says it’s a Michelin recommended.

Mango/tofu fa and mango/pomelo w/tapioca. Hit the spot. Don’t normally have room for desserts, but will be exploring more of the menu while we are here. Highly recommend this place!!


I won’t be cooking myself and will likely go out with friends. Some easy traditional dishes you could add are noodles- keep them as long as possible, and have a platter of oranges for/with dessert. I remember that the smaller mandarin oranges that come with lots of leaves are most desirable but cant recall exactly why…


What’s the name of the place?

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I want to go to there.


Cong Kai Star in Causeway Bay.

Wife now can’t find the Michelin reference. We went again tonight. Getting hooked on mango creations.

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Hotpot is also a great option, and is pretty easy to prep too. I have to scale the dish way down for the family, LOL.

Is it Poon Choi? Looks very fun.

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I liked this place too:


I didn’t know Nem chua is new year food, I like it a lot, in France, they still sell the pork version.

Thanks for the English. My wife only knows the Chinese name.

We always refer to this dish as "the dish she always wanted, but we never give enough advance notice to order ". :).

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You get around!!!

Taking the hydro to Macao in a couple of hours. Let’s see what kinda goodies the Macaws got cooked up for cny.

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What adventure! Have fun! Do report back, recently just bought a Macau cookbook…

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Does that count the day before new year? i.e. should people cook much on CNY eve?

It doesn’t count the day before but typically (and hopefully) a family would be prepared before that. Given that the celebration lasts weeks, the preparation begins weeks before hand. I think the preparation is the most fun part. That’s when all the shopping, cooking, and preserving happens. The day before should just be preparing the house; i.e. sweeping away the old, final touches in decorations, setting up to receive the new year and its fortunes. There shouldn’t be a last minute flurry of cooking.

It’s not exclusively a New Year’s dish but it’s often shared during this time. Since it is one of those labor intensive items (wrapping small cubes in banana leaves), a preserved food, and a rather luxury item, nem chua is often given as gifts or served to guests during the new year.

The pork version is still available where I am (California). People are getting creative with new versions such as “faking it” by using ham and vinegar.

LOL. looks like there will be in our house. except we are only cooking for one meal.

What do they use to ferment the pork?

Well it’s naturally fermented but cured using nitrates These days most people use a commercially prepared mix that has the nitrates in them already and add additional seasonings to their taste. In addition to the pork meat there is also shredded pork skin which helps bind the sausage together.

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Making noodles. Phongdien Town, Cantho City, Southern Vietnam.
Credit: CiaoHo