Chinese New Year is coming! Under the dark cloud of Covid-19, the Hong Kong government has cancelled most of the new year events like the firework show and night parade. Although the vibes are bad, we can have lucky food to make our lives more auspicious. How much do you know about the special meaning of the lucky food for Chinese New year? Check to see the top 5 lucky food and get prepared!
1. Rice Cake (年糕)
Soak the sliced rice cakes in whisked eggs and pan fry them until golden brown on each side. Enjoy a chewy piece with the aroma of eggs. Rice cake is one of the most important food the Chinese people eat during Chinese New Year. People always serve them when their relatives come and pay a New Year’s visit.
Having rice cake in Chinese New Year is a tradition that has existed for thousands of years. Rice cake is basically made with glutinous rice and farmers harvest it once a year. In ancient China, peasants had rice cake to wish for a bumper crop.
When China’s economic system was transformed from agriculture-based to knowledge-based, fewer people recognized the original meaning. They mostly interpret “rice cake” with its pronunciation. “Cake” and “high” are homonyms in Cantonese. In other words, rice cake is given a meaning of “promoted every year”.
Ki Tusi Cake Shop is a celebrated traditional Chinese cake shop in Hong Kong, which has been operating for 37 years. The Michelin Guide Hong Kong features Ki Tsui in street food field in 2021. In order to let customers have a delightful consumption, it only sells fresh cakes and pastries from the oven and no leftovers are vended. There is always a long queue of people waiting to buy the freshly baked food, chicken cake and Chinese shortbread, for instance. In addition, the shop also sells New Year food before the Lunar New Year.
Location: 135 Fa Yuen Street, Mong Kok
2. Dumplings (餃子)
Chinese people must eat dumplings on New Year’s Eve. In ancient China, there were 12 two-hour periods and the period 11pm-01am was called “zi-time”(子時)or “jiaozi-time” (交子時). Dumplings and “jiaozi” have similar pronunciation so that the former one is injected a special content. They are not just ordinary dumplings, but are dumplings “bidding farewell to the current year and welcoming the new year” (更歲交子).
Dumplings also symbolise wealth in Chinese people’s mind. Since the shape of dumplings looks like silver ingot, people have dumplings with a desire of wealth and treasure. People may even put coins into the stuffing.
Here is a reminder! Never say the dumplings are “broken” or “destroyed” when you find their skin is split, or you may become hapless in the coming year. Try to praise it and said,”it is swelled.”
3. Red Melon Seed (紅瓜子)
Red is an auspicious colour in Chinese tradition. There is a conventional perception among Chinese people that they will become lucky when they are in contact with things in red. Chinese people usually put red melon seeds in the centre of the candy tray, emphasizing its significance.
“Melon” means “death” in Cantonese slang, which is unlucky in old superstition. Melon seeds are otherwise known as “grasping silver” (搲銀). People believe that they can earn more money after having melon seeds. The old custom of having melon seeds in Chinese New Year’s Eve is named “nibble poverty”(嗑窮), which represents a wish to get rid of poverty in the new year.
Located in Tsuen Wan Tai Ho Road, Shanghai Luk Kam Kee is a 72-year time-honored store. Not only do they sell red melon seeds, the store also serves different flavors like cream melon seeds, licorice melon seeds and licorice sweet soy sauce black melon seeds. Customers can taste all of them before they purchase their favorite one. Therefore, you can notice a floor of seed shells when you walk into the store, which is its remarkable signature.
Location: Shop No.11, G/f 5 TaiHo Road, Tsuen Wan, New Territiories
Shop no. 1, G/F.,Fu Lee Commercial Building, 14-20 Pilkem House,Pilkem St.,Yau Ma Tei, Kln.
4. Crispy Triangle
Crispy triangle has a connotative meaning of “youjiao”(有角), which Chinese people regard as “come to the fore”. In ancient China, the government organised imperial examination every four years. In order to bring glory to family and ancestors, literati had to studied hard so as to win the test. Their family members then may make crispy triangles, reminding them to pay effort.
Crispy triangle has a similar connotation with dumplings. Different from cooking method and colour, crispy triangle is a kind of fried food that is golden in colour. Similarly, its plump shape resembles a wallet of a gold ingot. Having more crispy triangles means getting more wealth!
5. Lotus Seeds/ Lotus Root (糖蓮子、糖蓮藕)
Candied lotus seed and lotus root can always be seen in the candy tray. They are all sugar-processed foods. There are many seeds in the lotus flower. These lotus seeds symbolize descendant. People have candied lotus seed in Chinese New Year to wish for posterity. Besides, lotus root is pronounced similarly with the term “nianyou” (年有), which means “having all the blessings in each year”.