Chinese people are very superstitious people. Depending on where you may be from, the New Year traditions can vary immensely. Certain fruits and foods are seen as auspicious in certain Chinese cultures are seen as a sign of bad luck in others. But let’s be serious, many of the so-called “Chinese New Year” meals you read about aren’t really special. Chinese people make up nice-sounding names for all the dishes and tell you that it’s a “unique” New Year dish. So, here’s your look into what’s in a real, authentic Chinese New Year dinner. This is what I had for my New Year Dinner.
(Here's my poon choy. Don't let the picture fool you, the pot is very deep.)
Poon Choy, which translates to Big Bowl Feast, is a traditional type of dish originating from Hong Kong. According to legend, it was said the dish was invented during the Song Dynsasty when Mongol troops invaded China. The locals apparently tried to aid the Emperor and his army which fled to Hong Kong and Guangdong, by collected whatever foods they had and threw it all into a big bowl.
(I was really full so I picked out just a few of my favorite things-abalone, fish maw, and sea cucumber.)
Today’s moden poon choy has ingredients such as abalone, ginseng, shark’s fin, duck, fish maw, crab, radish, shrimp, lamb, beef, chicken, mushroom, eel, squid, goose feet tofu, to name a few. The dish is eaten with everyone using their chopsticks and mixing the food to bring good fortune in the coming year.
Another dish with similar meaning eaten for the New Year is “lo hay”. “Lo hay” is particularly a South East Asian custom very popular in certain regions of China as well. Lo hay is, is a dish filled with vegetables, crackers, nuts, sweet and sour sauce, spices, raw salmon, and fruit. Each of the ingredients symbolizes some form of prosperity.
(Some mixing in action!)
Everyone then raises their chopsticks and mixes the platter by picking up the items with their chopsticks. This action is to signify good luck by mixing all these symbolic forms of prosperity.
Happy Lunar New Year!