Eat These 10 Essential Chinese New Year Dishes
6. Dumplings, or jiao zhi
Families traditionally spend New Year's Eve preparing the dumplings and will eat them at midnight. It's a custom that dates back to the Ming and Qing Dynasties. The dumpling is shaped like an old-fashioned gold ingot. The saying associated with dumpings, or jiao zhi, is "gen shui jiao zhi," or "ring out the old year and ring in the new." Legend has it that the more dumplings you eat during the New Year celebration, the more money you can make in the upcoming cycle. For the best dumplings in Los Angeles, Luscious is a must for handmade potsticker aficionados.
704 W. Las Tunas Drive, San Gabriel; (626) 282-8695.
5. Long noodles, or mian tiao
Long noodles represent longevity. They usually are served uncut. In Taiwan especially, miswa, thin salted wheat noodles, are widely used and can be served in stewed broth. Miswa signifies long life, and the noodle is also a traditional birthday dish. The ever-so-popular Class 302 serves up a classic miswa dish with pig intestines.
1015 S. Nogales St, Rowland Heights; (626) 965-5809.
4. Mustard greens, or changnian cai
Mustard greens are a standard vegetable dish for the celebration. They are commonly known as jie cai, but in the context of the new year, they are labeled as "chang nian cai," which translates to "perennial vegetables." They can't be overcooked, so they're an ideal symbol for a long life. You're expected to eat the entire vegetable — the homonym for this is chang chang jiu jiu, or longevity. While jie cai is common in most Chinese restaurants, Fine Garden Vegetarian Restaurant in San Gabriel serves the greens sauteed with tofu skin.
841 W. Las Tunas Drive, San Gabriel.
Flickr/Victoria Rachitzky Hoch
3. Fruit, or shui guo
Mandarin oranges are a common fruit during the New Year. The word in Chinese for oranges, ju in the Teochew dialect, is a homophone for ji, the word for auspicious or lucky. Pomelos are another favorite. The Chinese word for pomelo, you zhi, sounds like the word for "to have" in Chinese, which is you. Citrus fruits are in abundance in grocery stores during this time of the year. Try 99 Ranch, which also carries exotic selections such as durian, dragon fruit and jackfruit.
140 W. Valley Blvd., San Gabriel; (626) 307-8899.
2. Spring roll, or chun juan
Spring roll is a Cantonese dim sum dish that's named after the Spring Festival. The words chun juan literally mean spring and roll. The golden color of the fried spring rolls represent gold bars — which, of course, symbolize wealth. Most seafood restaurants like Sea Harbour carry this dish during their dim sum hours.
3939 Rosemead Blvd., Rosemead; (626) 288-3939.
Flickr/Eka Raditya Rooshartanto
1. Poultry, or jia qin
The poultry should be served whole with the head and the feet still attached. This connotes unity and a good marriage between families. A common cooking method: Marinate the chicken and then air-dry it for about three hours until the skin is like paper. Flash-fry it and then coat it with spices. The same method can be applied to ducks as well. Preroasted whole poultry can be found at Sam Woo BBQ.
514 W. Valley Blvd., Alhambra; (626) 281-0038.
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