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8 Auspicious Foods to Feast On This Chinese New Year

Jan 18 2021 - Blog

Chinese New Year is just around the corner! The Year of the Ox commences on 12th February 2021, ushering in a new year of festivities, cheer, happiness, and prosperity. All around the world, Chinese New Year is a time of feasting and gatherings with loved ones – albeit on a smaller scale this year.

Did you know that the foods that we all eat during Chinese New Year actually have a meaning or symbolism to them? It’s no secret that the Chinese have a penchant for toying around with words, symbols, and their attached meanings. For example, the abalone (sea snail; 鳆; fu) symbolises good fortune; chinese cabbage (白菜; bai cai) heralds 100 variations of prosperity luck; duck (鸭肉; ya rou) heralds fertility; fish (魚) is pronounced the same way as 餘 (yu), which means to have a surplus in terms of wealth.

This is why slices of raw fish are often found in yusheng, a Prosperity Toss that’s usually mixed – in a rather theatrical fashion, might we add! – at the start of every meal. And what’s Chinese New Year without our favourite pineapple tarts? Called “Ong Lai” in Hokkien, these pineapple tarts are said to mark the beginning of prosperous times.

Here are some auspicious foods to stock up on before they are all snapped up:


1. Abalones

Foods from the sea are viewed as a prized commodity in Chinese cosmology, which establishes a close connection between water and wealth. Abalone is called “bao yu”, which also means to have a surplus. This is translated to having an abundance of wealth and good fortune.

From the Sky Premium eStore: Pamper yourself with some fresh abalones, which are 100% domestically sourced and naturally produced. And judging by the quality of all Japanese produce, you know you’re in for a treat! Large, plump, and sweet, these abalones have a buttery texture, with a delightful melt-in-your-mouth sensation.


2. Shrimps

Look closely, and you’ll realise that many Chinese New Year dishes contain shrimps, or prawns. Celebrated as a symbol of happiness and good fortune, prawns are also pronounced as “har” in Cantonese, which is similar to the sound of laughter. As the saying goes, the consumption of shrimps or prawns will fill any individual with bountiful happiness and never-ending laughter! It’s also said that the more prawns or shrimps you consume, the more happiness will be brought to your family in the new year.

These shrimps and prawns are often used as ingredients for a hotpot dinner, or chopped up as part of the filling for dumplings. The communal nature of hotpot is the basic foundation of Chinese New Year, which is a time to unite with your loved ones. Dumplings are either combined with hotpot or eaten on their own; they have a striking resemblance to the Chinese gold and silver ingots, easily winning over the hearts of many Chinese!

From the Sky Premium eStore: Indulge in some Black Tiger Shrimps or Ebi Shrimps. The Black Tiger Shrimps are approximately 9 to 13 inches long, and are touted to be softer and sweeter than other shrimp species. The Ebi Shrimps, on the other hand, pack a healthy punch with their abundance of vitamins and minerals.


3. Scallops with shell

Similar to Tang Yuan (glutinous rice balls), scallops are revered for their round shape. This round shape represents a togetherness or oneness, which ties in with the theme of reunion. Scallops are also a main ingredient for the “Pen Cai”, a giant braised dish that revolves around luxurious ingredients. These ingredients are layered in a ceramic pork, and braised over a few days.

From the Sky Premium eStore: Have a taste of the ocean with these scallops, which come with or without the shell. Bursting with minerals, the scallops boast a tantalising umami flavour with each juicy bite.


4. Vegetables

Raw lettuce is pronounced as “sheng cai” in Mandarin, serving as a homonym that also means to “grow money”. It’s consumed as a symbol of prosperity. Another common dish is fried leeks – it’s called “da suan” in Chinese, which can be translated to “counting money”. When combined with mustard greens (“long year vegetables”), they translate to “chang chang jiu jiu”, which means “a very, very long time”. Eating these vegetables hence bestow the blessing of a long life onto individuals; do note that it’s recommended to eat the vegetables in one bite so as not to cut that life short!

Other vegetables like carrot and radish are also eaten for good luck, with broccoli also serving as a symbol of health and happiness.

From the Sky Premium eStore: Complete your meal with the Harvest of the Season, which comprises a bundle of all the freshest seasonal vegetables.


5. Shiitake Mushrooms

Just like scallops, the round shape of shiitake mushrooms is reminiscent of wholeness and family reunion. Called “dong gu” in Mandarin, the mushrooms are linked to the idiom “dongcheng xijiu”, which translates to “wishes fulfilled from the east to west”. This, naturally, positions shiitake mushrooms as a favoured ingredient by many during the Chinese New Year!

Shiitake mushrooms are also the centrepiece of a traditional Chinese New Year dish, alongside oysters, pork, lettuce, and fat choy (black moss seaweed).

From the Sky Premium eStore: Elevate your meal with shiitake mushrooms, which offer a meaty texture and rich umami flavour. The mushrooms are also a hearty source of dietary fiber, copper, selenium, manganese, protein, iron, and B vitamins.


6. Oranges

Mandarin oranges are a common sight during this festive time, as they’re seen as a token of luck. Most people practice the act of giving oranges; it’s a tradition to offer two oranges to the owner of a house that you’re visiting, and receive another two oranges in turn.

This act is known as “song gam” in Cantonese, which is the same pronunciation as “giving gold”. This exchange of oranges is hence seen as an act of bestowing prosperity upon each respective recipient. Oranges are also used as decorations, and commonly enjoyed as dessert after a filling meal.

From the Sky Premium eStore: Be spoilt for choice with Japanese Mandarin Oranges, Dekopon Oranges, as well as SETOKA Oranges. Sweet, juicy, tangy, and aromatic, you won’t be able to stop at one!


7. Pomelos

If you haven’t figured it out by now, the Chinese are all about finding correlations between different words that have the same pronunciations. The Chinese word for pomelo is “you”, which sounds like the Chinese words for “have” and “again”. It’s hence implied that the more pomelo you eat, the more wealth you’d have! In addition, pomelos also signify fertility, family unity, and good health. The eating of fresh, sweet fruit also symbolises the beginning of a new life, and a sweet year ahead.

From the Sky Premium eStore: Be tempted by the Banpeiyu, the most popular pomelo cultivar in Japan. Large, pulpy, citrusy, and fragrant, it’s not only a delight to eat, but also serves as a popular remedy for colds.


8. Sakes

Traditionally, every meal during Chinese New Year ends on a high note, with a glass of wine or alcohol. Alcohol is “jiu” in Chinese, which sounds like the Chinese word for “long-lasting”. At the end of every meal, diners will usually raise a toast, wishing each other everlasting happiness. This Chinese New Year, why not make sake your choice of tipple?

From the Sky Premium eStore: Treat yourself to only the best with the Raifuku FANTASTIC VII Junmai Daiginjo (Ibaraki). This super premium sake reached a record of 93% polishing, with only 7% remaining due to auspicious reasons. This sake will be sold in our eStore by the end of January, so do keep a lookout!

 

Stock up on all of the above prosperous ingredients, and make your upcoming Chinese New Year feast the best one yet. Bookmark our member-exclusive eStore, where we bring you the finest selection of novelty lifestyle items with our curated partners, luxury branded products, and premium Japanese delicacies freshly flown in from Tokyo’s Toyosu Market. Yes, everything mentioned above is freshly flown directly from Japan!

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For more information, contact our Lifestyle team at lifestyle [at] skypremium.com.sg today.