• Chewy, sticky, silky, melty - potstickers tick every possible moreish box. (China Squirrel)Source: China Squirrel
Trolly or no trolly, excitement will run high when you celebrate Lunar New Year with a DIY yum cha feast.
13 Feb 2018 - 7:30 AM  UPDATED 24 Jan 2022 - 2:54 AM

Remember to wash your feast down with plenty of tea, believed to aid digestion - and true to the name "yum cha", meaning "drink tea".

1. Scallop and chive dumplings

These elegant translucent-skinned dumplings are made from a pastry of tapioca flour and water. If you don't have the time or inclination to make them from scratch, pick up some gow gee dumpling skins from your local Asian grocer. And while you're there, look out for doubanjiang - the fermented bean chilli sauce that is the little kick in these flavourful morsels.

Scallop and chive dumplings

2. Sichuan salt and pepper king prawns with wok-toasted chilli and garlic

The secret to these prawns' success is marinating them first in soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, sesame oil and a beaten egg before deep-frying them. Allow at least 20 minutes to marinate, or even overnight, if possible. 

3. Spring onion pancakes

These flaky and perfectly oily pancakes are served with a tart dipping sauce. They will definitely not be sticking around to see the Lunar New Year out. 

4. Pork and prawn potstickers

What makes potstickers a particularly sublime part of the dumpling category is their chewy-and-crispy, best-of-both-worlds shell. This is achieved by being both steamed and fried, a little stroke of dumpling genius. 

5. Hong Kong fried rice

Fried rice is a crowd-pleaser, especially when there's enough it means you can wake up to leftovers (ie. make double). 

6. Hot and fragrant crab (hong jiau xiang la xie)

Sitting around in a group picking apart crabs with your hands has something of a festive feel to it, and these ones have a lively flavour to match the atmosphere. 

7. Barbecue pork belly steamed buns (bao)

These pork buns may have a fresh and modern edge, with their open shape and abundance of pickled carrots and herbs, but at their heart, they're still the same char sui bao you know and love: pork belly caramelised in lashings of five-spice, sugar and soy sauce encased in a cloud-like steamed bun. 

8. Kung pao chicken

Where Chinese cuisine often features different cuts of the chicken - cartilage, neck, feet, skin - this one uniquely uses the chicken breast. While this cut is thought to lack in flavour compared to others, it’s not detectable in this saucy combination of Szechuan peppercorns, dried red chillis and peanuts. 

Kung pao chicken

9. Crab and prawn sesame toast with sweet chilli

These crisp and pillowy of yum cha staples get a unique angle by including crab meat in the mix along with the prawn. 

Crab and prawn sesame toasts

10. Whole snapper steamed with black beans, lemon and chilli

You'll need a wok and a bamboo steamer for this banquet-worthy dish, and things are straightforward from there: the fish is steamed with black beans and lemon, then has an aromatic hot oil poured over it to crisp things up. 

11. Stir-fried water spinach with chilli and sichuan pepper (ma la kong xin cai)

To bring some freshness to the table, some water spinach hit with a little bit of heat is the perfect option. 

12. Cool steamed aubergine with a garlicky dressing (liang ban qie zi)

These eggplants are steamed before being stir-fried, making them tender and succulent little sponges for the fragrant sauce. 

13. Spicy beef with tangerine (chen pi niu rou)

Meaty and juicy, with a little bit of tang: this Sichuan beef dish has a rich flavour and a citrus edge that keeps it peppy. 

14. Chinese cucumber and sesame salad

Nothing offsets meat and carbs quite like some fresh cucumber. 

15. Tea-smoked duck with tamarind and plum sauce

Before you write off smoking meat as something restaurants do, consider this: you’ll just need a large work, some foil, jasmine tea leaves, sugar, and uncooked jasmine rice. 

16. Dan tat (egg tarts)

These cute little tarts arrived in Cantonese cuisine via the Portuguese pastel de nata, when the Portuguese came to Macau at the beginning of the twentieth century. Flaky and light, they'll always be room for (at least) one. 

Egg tarts

17. Mango Pudding 

To give this classic yum cha pudd a slightly fancier appearance, it's topped with passionfruit granita, fresh mango cubes, tapioca, baby coriander leaves, and pomelo flesh. A light and refreshing way to wrap up a flavour-packed meal. 

So much yum
Chicken bao

My version is shaped like a gua bao, a Chinese sandwich-style steamed bun.

Crispy eggplant with spiced red vinegar

The vegetarian dishes of China's cuisine aren't often given much spotlight, but this crispy eggplant will have everyone pushing aside the sweet and sour pork.

Love note fortune cookies

Send a sweet message straight from the heart in one of these special fortune cookies.

Stir-fried telegraph cucumber with garlic and sesame

The thought of hot cucumber is probably unappealing to some people but this quick and easy side dish will convert naysayers. In this warm spicy number, the cucumber is still crunchy and refreshing.

Pan-fried beef pies (xian bing)

These Chinese stuffed pies are usually formed into a round shape but here they are made in semi-circles for easier recreation at home.