January 31st, 2014 marks the Lunar New Year for many cultures around the world. As with most holidays, each culture has its own unique food traditions to celebrate the occasion. Here is an overview of the dishes several cultures will make to celebrate the Year of the Horse.
Chinese New Year
In Chinese culture, there are many culinary traditions that revolve around “luck” for the
New Year. Tangerines and oranges represent wealth and luck, as the Chinese names for the two fruits sound like “luck” and “gold”, respectively. Another auspicious fruit
is pomelo, which is said to bring prosperity and abundance because, like tangerines and
oranges, the Chinese name sounds similar to the term “to have”.
As for traditional savory dishes eaten during the Lunar New Year, fish is also commonly eaten to bring – you guessed it – good fortune in the upcoming year. The Chinese term for fish sounds like the word for “wish”, representing hope.
Korean New Year
In Korean tradition, there are several dishes eaten in celebration of the New Year, called Seollal in South Korea. Rice cakes are served in a clear soup, called tteokguk, in representation of a fresh start. According to tradition, one must eat a bowl of the soup in order to become a year older. Galbijim, or short ribs, are also eaten on the New Year, along with japchae, potato noodles served with vegetables and beef.
Try your hand at japchae with this recipe from The Chow.
Vietnamese New Year
On Vietnamese New Year, or Tèt, families have several traditional dishes to choose from. Banh Chung is especially popular – sticky rice with bean wrapped in leaves. Another common New Year food is Gio Cha, a Vietnamese sausage, which is usually served with Xoi, a sticky rice. Guests to a New Year celebration in a Vietnamese home are often greeted with candied fruits.
For a truly authentic Banh Chung experience, check out this recipe from The Kitchn.