Lunar New Yr 2024 defined in 5 emblematic dishes | Arts and Tradition Information [World]


It’s the 12 months of the dragon, and celebrations are about to start.

Beginning on Saturday, tons of of thousands and thousands of individuals across the globe will mark the Lunar New Yr. Households will come collectively for celebrations that can prolong over a number of days in a number of nations, together with China, North and South Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, Brunei and Vietnam in addition to amongst diaspora communities in different nations.

Meals is a central a part of the Lunar New Yr expertise with signature dishes ready particularly for the event.

Here’s a have a look at some Lunar New Yr dishes and what they symbolise:

Guests toss an 88 kg plate of yusheng or raw fish during a "lo hei" dinner ahead of the Lunar New Year in Singapore January 8, 2016.
Company toss an 88kg (194lb) plate of yusheng, or uncooked fish, throughout a dinner forward of the Lunar New Yr in Singapore [File: Edgar Su/Reuters]


This vibrant uncooked fish salad with recent greens is in style in Malaysia and Singapore. It’s believed to have been launched by Cantonese and Teochew immigrants. In Cantonese, the phrase for fish sounds just like the phrase for abundance.

Sliced uncooked fish is central to the dish, and shiny salmon has lengthy been the go-to choice.

Meghan Poh, a Singapore-based designer and illustrator, informed Al Jazeera that assembling yusheng could be an thrilling communal ritual for households.

In response to the 24-year-old, auspicious phrases are sometimes chanted with the addition of each ingredient as yusheng is assembled. Most chants are wordplays on the ingredient names.

Shredded carrots and lime add a zesty earthiness whereas crushed golden crackers and peanuts add a nutty crunch. Spices are sprinkled, oil is drizzled after which comes essentially the most thrilling half: Members of the family and mates collect across the dish with massive chopsticks to toss collectively the weather in a ritual that can also be referred to as the prosperity toss.

Actually, yusheng can also be referred to as lo hei, which is Cantonese for “tossing up”. “Apparently, the upper you toss, the wealthier or luckier you’re within the New Yr,” Poh mentioned.

A resident drops Banh Chung or rice cakes to to cook at Tranh Khuc village, outside Hanoi January 14, 2012.
A resident drops banh chung, or rice muffins, right into a pot to prepare dinner at Tranh Khuc village outdoors Hanoi [File: Kham/Reuters]

Banh chung

For the Lunar New Yr, homes in Vietnam are embellished in pink and yellow – “the colors of wealth and wellbeing in our tradition”, Vietnamese pupil Thuc Ngo mentioned.

Workplaces and faculties take an eight- to 10-day break, also called the Tet vacation in Vietnam. “We now have massive platters with totally different sorts of meals,” she mentioned, explaining that the objects are additionally offered on the ancestral altar.

Banh chung is a signature Lunar New Yr dish in Vietnam. It consists of sq. layers of fragrant glutinous rice, tender beans and pork.

A man wraps banh chung, or rice cakes, for sale ahead of Tet, the traditional Vietnamese Lunar New Year festival, in Tranh Khuc village, outside Hanoi, Vietnam
A person wraps banh chung on the market forward of Tet, the standard Vietnamese Lunar New Yr pageant, in Tranh Khuc village outdoors Hanoi [File: Kham/Reuters]

Thuc, who’s learning enterprise in Qatar, mentioned the layering of the numerous parts in banh chung symbolises pure parts akin to animals and crops residing in concord with people.

“You employ the banana leaf to wrap them along with the string,” Thuc mentioned. The banh chung are then positioned in a big pot and steamed for as much as 10 hours till they’re cooked into shiny, inexperienced squares with a fragile flavour. The stickiness of the rice is a signature property of the rice muffins. They’re additionally mentioned to be symbolic of the earth or the land of Vietnam.

“It’s a massive custom to assemble across the massive pot of banh chung on New Yr’s Eve to observe it prepare dinner in a single day, in order that your complete household has banh chung to eat all through the Tet vacation,” she mentioned.

Tteokguk or sliced rice cake soup is a traditional Korean dish eaten during the celebration of the Korean New Year closeup in the bowl on the table.
Tteokguk, or sliced rice cake soup, is a standard Korean dish eaten throughout the celebration of the Korean New Yr [Alleko/Stock image/Getty]


This savoury rice cake and meat inventory soup is a staple of Korean delicacies and a signature dish throughout the Lunar New Yr. The broth is mostly beef-based. Seaweed and inexperienced onion could be added to the dish.

Historically, rice muffins weren’t consumed each day as a result of rice was a scarce, costly commodity and was reserved for particular events, such because the Lunar New Yr, referred to as Seollal in Korea.

Tteokguk is likely one of the meals offered to ancestors throughout a standard ritual referred to as charye.

The chewy rice muffins are small and round. They’re believed to resemble cash and symbolise wealth and prosperity. They’re additionally white, symbolic for purity and cleanliness as Koreans mark the beginning of a New Yr.

A worker reacts while pulling out a tray of pineapple tarts from an oven in the central kitchen of traditional Peranakan confectionery HarriAnns in Singapore April 20, 2018.
A employee pulls out a tray of pineapple tarts from an oven within the central kitchen of the standard Peranakan confectionery HarriAnns in Singapore [File: Loriene Perera/Reuters]

Pineapple tarts

Notably in style as a Lunar New Yr candy in Taiwan, pineapple tarts are actually widespread in different elements of Asia – notably Malaysia and Singapore – in addition to different elements of the world.

As soon as once more, the importance of the dish lies in phrases and sounds. The Chinese language phrase for pineapple, “ong lai”, sounds just like “incoming luck” within the Hokkein dialect. That’s what makes the buttery cookies a should–have for the celebrations, with households stocking up on provides for festive guests or to present as presents to mates and enterprise associates.

Pineapples have additionally turn out to be a political image of Taiwanese id throughout the self-governing territory’s mounting tensions with China. In 2021, Beijing banned the import of the fruit from Taiwan.

(Al Jazeera)

Zhai choy

Poh, the designer in Singapore, prepares meals together with her rapid household and uncle for a big household gathering each Lunar New Yr. Her household sits round the home wrapping spiced meat rolls, following her aunt’s recipe.

As soon as the household gathers, they sit round, discuss, eat and watch films collectively.

“Earlier than my grandma handed, she used to make this Cantonese dish referred to as zhai,” she mentioned.

Zhai is a vegetarian dish with parts akin to fermented tofu, mushrooms and cabbage. Poh defined that it additionally has fats choy, which seems like strands of hair when dry, and has the feel of vermicelli when moist. Poh mentioned fats choy can also be a homonym for gaining wealth.

Chewy glass noodles added to zhai characterize longevity. Shredded carrots additionally characterize good luck.

The dish additionally helps to steadiness out the heaviness of different meals, typically meat-based, that’s consumed throughout the Lunar New Yr, Poh mentioned.

Rising up, meals helped Poh get previous awkward moments throughout Lunar New Yr celebrations, which may in any other case be overwhelming due to massive household gatherings, she mentioned. “Particularly if you don’t conform to typical, conventional requirements,” she mentioned, akin to by pursuing “a unique profession than what’s historically anticipated”.

“Now that I’m older, I recognize the event extra and discover myself taking part a bit extra,” she remarked. She now hopes to learn to make conventional Lunar New Yr recipes.

“I feel a variety of these recipes are getting misplaced, like my po po’s [grandmother’s] zhai recipe, after she handed, I by no means learnt it, and I don’t assume any of my aunts know find out how to make it. You will discover a recipe on-line, however it’s totally different.”


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