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In Preparation for Lunar New Year - Lunar New Year Recipes

Lunar New Year is a time where family and food are celebrated together in a season of fun and good fortune. Often, ingredients are chosen for what they represent - Typically it has to do with the name and how it sounds or its physical resemblance to another revered object.

The following ingredients are said to promote wealth and good fortune for the family:

via Wok&Kin

  • Fish - The word in Chinese (鱼) sounds very similar to a word that means 'surplus' and the fish itself is often served whole to bring wealth and luck.

  • Dumplings (Jiaozi). - These tend to look like the old Chinese gold ingots, a past form of Chinese currency.

  • Black Moss - Pronounced 'fat choy' in Cantonese, the first character sounds identical to the word that means to be rich.

  • Nian Gao 年糕 - Sounds similar to the way you might say 'to achieve higher year after higher year', which is a sign for a growth mindset and developing wealth.

Longevity noodles - Promote long life and health. Also known as e-fu noodles, these remain long and unbroken to symbolize the length of one's life. They are also served at birthdays, weddings, or when celebrating a newborn baby.

Lunar New Year Recipes:

Steamed Oysters with Ginger and Shallots (Appetizer)

via Wok&Kin


  • 12 oysters (can get them shucked at the seafood market)

  • 25 g / 0.06 lb ginger (thinly sliced)

  • 2 sprig scallion / spring onion (thinly sliced and soaking in cold water)

  • 5 tbsp light soy sauce (or to taste)

  • 1 tbsp sugar (or to taste)

  • 5 tbsp water

  • 6 tbsp cooking oil


  • Have the oysters shucked at the seafood market when you buy them, then give each shellfish a quick rinse in cool water to remove any shell shards.

  • Set up your steamer while you garnish the oysters with the ginger. Steam on high heat with the lid on for 7 minutes or until just cooked.

  • Meanwhile, combine the light soy sauce, sugar and water in a saucepan over high heat until the sugar has melted.

  • Plate the steamed oysters, pour 1-2 tbsp of the sauce over them and garnish with scallions. Heat up the oil until smoking and pour 1/2 tbsp over the scallions on each oyster.

  • Enjoy hot as is!


  • Eat the steamed oysters as soon as you cook them. If you can't eat them straight away, wait until you can, to steam them.

  • Cook on a high heat the entire time. Avoid lifting the lid and keep the shellfish sealed in the steam to cook all the way through.

  • Make sure the oil is smoking hot. This will partially cook the scallions, giving them a fragrant aroma.

  • Taste the sauce before you add it. The sauce can be easily adjusted to preference, so make sure to taste it just before you pour it over the shellfish.

  • After thinly slicing the ginger and spring onions, keep them in cool water. This is done for two reasons: (1) The spring onions will curl and look fancier as a garnish and (2) the ginger's bite will be diluted in the water. If you prefer the ginger to have a spicier kick, skip soaking it in water.


Chinese Fish Soup

via Wok&Kin


  • 1 bass grouper fish head (can ask the fish market to clean and cut it up)

  • 1/2 kg (1 lb) fish

  • 1 packet (400 g / 1lb) pickled mustard greens (can buy it from the local Asian grocery)

  • 1/2 kg (1 lb) taro (can buy it from the local Asian grocery)

  • fried tofu

  • 5 slices ginger

  • 8 spring onion heads

  • potato starch

  • 2 tbsp salt (or to taste)

  • 1 tbsp sugar (or to taste)

  • 1 tbsp chicken powder

  • 3 L water

  • rice noodles (optional)


  • Prepare the fish by giving it a wash and using a knife to lightly scrape off any excess scales. If you ask your fish monger, they will happily do most of the scraping for you.

  • Cut the fish into chunks and lightly coat them in potato starch.

  • Fry the coated fish pieces in oil over a medium heat until they are golden.

  • Cut the taro into chunks or thick slices and fry in oil over a medium heat until golden.

  • Wash the pickled mustard greens then chop them into smaller pieces. If you’d prefer a crunch, then keep the pieces larger.

  • Lightly oil a wok and pan fry the pickled mustard greens for 3 minutes then put it in a pot.

  • Heat up a pan with oil and add the ginger and spring onions until fragrant. Toss the fried fish in.

  • Pour the fish, ginger, spring onions into the pot with the pickled mustard greens. Add water and season with salt, sugar and chicken powder.

  • Let the broth simmer for 30 minutes. You can add the taro and fried tofu in during this stage for a thicker broth as the taro melts into the soup or you can leave it until just before serving to add it in.

  • To enjoy this dish, have it as is or with rice noodles!


Cantonese Steamed Fish with Ginger and Shallots (Main Dish)

via Wok&Kin
(You will need a steamer for this recipe)


(For the Steaming)

  • 1 whole fish (get the fish monger to descale and gut it for you)

  • 20 g ginger (cut into thin strips)

  • 1 sprig spring onions (sliced diagonally or into thin strips)

(For the Sauce)

  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce (or to taste)

  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar (or to taste)

  • 3 tsp water

  • 5 tbsp cooking oil (1 for the sauce and 4 for the aromatics)


(Preparing the Fish for Cooking)

  • To make sure the plated dish is completely clear of any scales, run a cleaver over the skin and scrape off any last scales. Pro Tip: Do this under a tap of running cold water to wash the scales away. Optional: Score the fish with two lines across its body on both sides.

  • Use scissors to cut off the fins and to trim the tail.

  • Optional: Remove the gills.

(For the Steaming)

  • Set up your steamer and bring it to a boil, then coat the fish’s top and insides with ginger. This will reduce any fishy smells.

  • Place the fish in the steamer and steam for 15 minutes or until cooked. To test it, poke a chopstick through. It should be clean when pulled out.

  • Pour the excess liquid out of the dish after it has been cooked.

  • Top the cooked seafood with spring onions and bring the oil to smoking point in a small saucepan. Pour it over the aromatics to sizzle. Pro Tip: You should see a light layer or smoke coming up from the oil once it reaches smoking point.

  • Meanwhile, combine the light soy sauce, sugar and water in a small saucepan with 1 tbsp cooking oil. Bring to a boil then turn off the heat and set aside.

  • Pour the sauce AROUND the fish to prevent it from getting soggy.

How to Serve (Restaurant Style)

  • Use a fork and spoon to break off the head and tail from the body.

  • Keep the utensils close together and cut along the length of the fish along the center from one end to the other.

  • Push the meat aside. The top half can be pushed up and the bottom half to the bottom.

  • Use the spoon to scoop up the bone. Gently pull it away from the body and place the whole bone on an empty part of the plate.

  • Put the meat back onto the body where it was before, this time just without the long bone inside.

  • Spoon some sauce over the fish to season.

  • Serve immediately as is!


E-Fu Noodles with Roast Duck (Main Dish)

via Wok&Kin


  • 300 g E-fu noodles (can get them from Asian supermarkets)

  • 1/2 Cantonese roast duck (deboned and sliced; can buy it from a Chinese BBQ shop)

  • 8 shiitake mushrooms (rehydrated and thinly sliced)

  • 1 bundle yellow chives [cut into 10cm (4″) segments]

  • 2 cans / 800mL chicken stock

  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar (or to taste)

  • 1 tbsp chicken bouillon powder

  • 4 tbsp oil


  • Bring the chicken stock to a boil and add in the noodles, one roll at a time.

  • Braise them for 3-5 minutes, following the packet for directions or until al dente.

  • Drain the noodles in a colander, but keep the liquid on the side for later.

  • Pour the oil into the wok and add chives on a medium heat. Stir for 10 seconds, then turn the heat to high and add the mushrooms. Toss for 1 minute.

  • Add the roast duck in and stir for 2 minutes, then add the reserved liquid back in to simmer for 30 seconds. Season with the chicken bouillon powder and sugar.

  • Toss in the noodles and mix well for 2 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed into the strands.

  • Serve immediately as is!


Nian Gao (Chinese New Year Glutinous Rice Cake) Dessert

via Wok&Kin


  • Sieve

  • cake tin or round foil trays (cake tins with removable bases will make it easier to take out)

  • aluminium foil

  • toothpick/fork (or any surface smoothing utensil)


  • 250 g / 0.55 lb brown sugar slab

  • 400 mL / 1.7 US cup water

  • 350 g / 0.77 lb glutinous rice flour

  • 30 g / 0.07 lb wheat starch

  • dried red date (optional; soaked in water for 10 minutes to rehydrate)


  • Cook the dark brown sugar slabs and water on medium heat until the sugar has melted. Let it cool until warm.

  • Combine the glutinous rice flour and wheat starch in a bowl.

  • Pour the sweet syrup into the flour mixture bit by bit while stirring it through. Do this until it's all mixed into a thick but runny batter.

  • Lightly oil the surface of your cake tin. Pro Tip: Keep the oil layer thin so it doesn't make the steamed surface lumpy.

  • Use a sieve to hover over the cake tin and pour the batter through. This will help to remove clumps.

  • Hold the cake tin and gently tap the base against the counter to force any air bubbles to rise. Use a toothpick to pop the bubbles and smooth out the surface.

  • Wrap the top of the cake tin with aluminium foil. Make sure there are no gaps.

  • Set your steamer up and steam the batter on high heat for 1 hour or until cooked.

  • When ready, take the rice cake out and insert a red date in the middle. You can push the whole date in or halve it and place it on top.

  • Slice and serve the Nian Gao immediately as is or lightly pan fry them with egg!


  • Use a dark sugar. The darker it is, the richer the final color after it steams.

  • Cover with foil or plastic wrap. As the Nian Gao steams, make sure it's covered with foil or plastic wrap to prevent holes from forming and water droplets landing on its surface.

  • Avoid over-mixing. This will work more air bubbles into it, which can form holes on the surface if not tapped out.

  • Keep the sugar syrup warm when mixing. The cooler the syrup is, the less chewy the final rice cake will be, which isn't ideal.

  • You can find glutinous rice flour and wheat starch in Asian supermarkets. They're often sold in small plastic bags.

  • Asian grocers will also sell brown sugar slabs, but if you can't find any, then a darker sugar like palm sugar or gula melaka will do.


Smiling Sesame Cookie Balls (Dessert)

via Wok&Kin


  • 300 g / 0.66 lb low gluten flour

  • 100 g / 0.22 lb sugar

  • 1/4 tsp baking powder

  • 1/4 tsp baking soda

  • 1 egg

  • 40 g / 0.09 lb melted butter (let it cool before use)

  • 1 US cup sesame seeds (or enough to roll the cookies in)

  • 100 mL / 0.4 US cup water (plus extra for dipping)

  • cooking oil (enough for the cookies to be completely submerged)


  • Mix the low gluten flour, baking powder, baking soda and sugar together in a large mixing bowl.

  • In a separate bowl, combine the cooled melted butter, egg and water.

  • Pour the wet mixture into the dry bit by bit as you mix it through.

  • When well combined, cover with plastic wrap and let it rest for 20 minutes.

  • After 20 minutes, knead the dough for 2 minutes or until it becomes smooth. Note: This is a sticky dough, so don't be alarmed if it sticks to your hands.

  • Dust your hands with some low gluten flour and scoop enough dough to roll into a 3cm (1.2") ball. Repeat until everything has been rolled. Note: Rolling 3cm (1.2") sized portions will expand into 5cm (2") balls. If you prefer it smaller, make them smaller.

  • As soon as one has been rolled, lightly dip part of its surface into the water and roll it again to spread the water around the ball. Put it straight into the bowl of sesame seeds and coat the entire surface.

  • Remove the ball from the seeds and roll it again in your hands to reform the shape. Set it aside as you work on the rest.

  • Bring a pot of oil to 120°C/250°F and fry the dough for 10 minutes or until golden, then scoop them out and let them sit on a plate lined with paper towels.

  • Serve immediately as is!


  • Work quickly. The butter in the cookies will make them deflate fairly fast, which will affect how they look when fried. Get another set of helping hands to make it more fun!

  • Keep the sesame and water separate. Unless you're dipping the dough into the water before the sesame, make sure your fingers are dry so the seeds don't stick to your skin.

  • Coat each rolled dough ball with enough water. This will help it cover each ball well because the seeds will stick better.

  • Don't overcrowd the pot. Each ball will expand as it fries, so cook about 4-5 at a time.

  • This recipe uses low gluten flour for its texture. If you can't find this, you can use cake flour as a substitute.

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