Chinese New Year food carries symbolic meanings of prosperity, good fortune, and success to the participants. This is often carried through in the homophones, visuals and texture of the ingredients. Below is a detailed table of different meanings of food often served during the Chinese New Year.

IngredientMeaning Dishes served
Fish ”Yu” is a homophone of “Completion” and “Fulfilment”. It can also mean “Abundance”.Steamed Fish, Yu Sheng (Raw Fish)
Abalone”Bao Yu”, similar to the above, means “Plentiful Abundance” and “Good Fortune”Bao Yu Sheng
VegetablesMeans “Collective Prosperity”, usually directed for families to prosper together
Meat (Pork, Chicken) Chicken is a homophone for “Togetherness”, often served during the family reunion dinner.
Mandarin Oranges, Lime and Oranges”Gam”, means “Gold” Usually served along side dessert, or given as a visiting present.
Noodles Long noodles means long lifeStir-Fry Noodles
Black Moss ”Fa Cai” is a homophone to “Achieve Wealth”Pen Cai, Abalone and Sea Cucumber and Moss and Broccoli
Prawns ”Ha” is the homophone to laughter and happiness. Sweet and Sour Pork/Chicken and Prawns and Pineapples
PineapplesArrival of ProsperitySweet and Sour Pork/Chicken and Prawns and Pineapples, Pineapple Tarts

If you’re planning to throw a Chinese New Year Party, or are cooking for the first time for CNY and want to throw a twist to the traditional dishes, now you know what ingredients are available to you to experiment with. Have fun!

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