Here we have the food dept.’s take on Shantung chicken, a popular option at Chinese banquets. Cooking a whole bird for Lunar New Year (which starts January 25, by the way) is said to bring prosperity, wholeness and togetherness of family. Better still, this crispy skin chicken with five-spice salt and sweet vinegar dressing is a flavour sensation.
Soba noodles are commonplace in Japanese homes around New Year as the long strands are said to represent longevity. For a deluxe dinner, we recommend Bar H's Hamish Ingham’s duck and scallop ramen. While enjoying the textured, soulful soup, be sure not to cut your noodles as this is terrible luck!
Korean meat patties get a modern makeover in Chung Jae Lee’s recipe for ginger pork balls. Spiked with soju and soy sauce, the twice-fried meatballs are coated in a crispy tempura batter. With a moist inside and crispy exterior, these snacks will be snapped up by celebratory guests.
If you’re dining companions prefer a little fancy, try a culinary mash-up. Luke Nguyen’s Vietnamese steak tartare combines raw minced beef and quail egg yolk with Asian herbs and seasonings. The entrée goes from nice to next-level with the addition of nuoc mam cham.
Mochi (glutinous rice cakes) are a New Year’s speciality in Japan. They're often moulded into edible decorations and eaten for good luck. Why not give your mochi balls a Korean kick? Fill with red bean and clothe in green tea wrappers. Thanks to Two Red Bowls for the clever idea!
No matter which cuisine you’re concentrating on, rice is a constant in New Year celebrations. Said to bring fertility, good luck and wealth, it’s made into many a sweet and savoury treat (see mochi balls above and rice crackers below). If time is of the essence, go for the incredibly simple, yet oh-so-tasty, Sichuan dish mapo tofu.
Your self-esteem levels will skyrocket when you’ve overcome the delicious challenge that is Chinese five-treasure duck. As its name suggests, this complex recipe contains many an ingredient – pork belly, prawn, chicken and choy sum, to name a few. If you’re looking for a stand-out centrepiece for LNY, this is it.
At the other end of the commitment, scale lies Kong BBQ's Benjamin Cooper’s recipe for jazzed-up rice crackers. Combining edamame salsa, sticky soy and spicy ssamjang with store-bought rice crackers, this easy Korean appetiser delivers fiery, nutty and piquant punches.
According to Adam Liaw, “Spring rolls are said to resemble gold bars with their shape and golden colour, while the Cantonese word for ‘orange’ is a homophone for the word for ‘wealth’. This dessert [custard spring rolls with orange syrup] combines both ingredients for a sweet treat that’s as lucky as it is delicious."
Globe-trotting food writer Naomi Duguid discovered ‘river fish celebration’ on her travels through Burma. To make this seafood sensation at home, marinate your fish (trout or snapper work well) in an aromatic rub of galangal, ginger, garlic and lime before frying.
Simple, fresh and healthy, prosperity toss (or yee sang as it’s known in Mandarin) is a Lunar New Year dish even paleos can pounce on. The share plate features shredded vegetables, pickled ginger, sashimi salmon and Chinese plum sauce. Skip the fried wonton wrappers if you're going gluten-free.
In Vietnam, mung bean cakes pop up at street stalls on every first day of the lunar month. Also known as "mooncakes" (get the astronomical reference?), they're richer and denser than Western desserts and come with a hint of grapefruit flower essence.
If, like us, your resolution list includes “conquer a new cuisine”, Lunar New Year is an excellent time to pop the Learner plates on. Requiring minimal ingredients and ready in 35 minutes, Feast’s Malaysian chicken curry is guaranteed to boost your cooking confidence.
For more Lunar New Year ideas, check out our recipe collection here.