Eat Well and Live Prosperous this Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year is a joyous occasion filled with family gatherings and of course, never ending plates of food. Many of the traditional dishes enjoyed throughout the Chinese New Year celebration hold special meanings passed down from generation to generation. Words and phrases that sound the same but have more than one meaning are especially big amongst the Chinese. One common Mandarin phrase nian nian you yu ("may there be surpluses every year") sounds the same as "may there be fish every year,” which is why we have provided two traditional fish recipes for you to try this New Year.
One very popular dish enjoyed by the Chinese in Singapore and Malaysia during the New Year is a dish called Yu Sheng, a Chinese Raw Fish Salad. The idea is similar to Japanese poke bowls, but each ingredient holds a specific significance in Chinese culture.
In English, “Yúshēng” (鱼生) literally means “raw fish,” but because it sounds like "Yúshēng" (余升), meaning "abundance", fish is regarded as a symbol for prosperity and good fortune. Chinese enjoy eating this dish due to its symbolism and believe that the prosperity and good fortune will carry on throughout the entire year. Usually raw salmon is used for this dish, but it is also possible to use steelhead trout. Both fish are seasonable and sustainable which will benefit the environment and ourselves.
Another simple, staple fish dish that is widely eaten amongst the Chinese during and past the New Year is Steamed Fish with Scallions and Ginger. Traditionally, the grouper/garouper fish is used, but with this dish being extremely flexible with the variety of fish used, we would also suggest opting for a seasonal and sustainable type, such as the black cod or striped bass. These options are just as tasty and good for you. The steamed fish is usually paired with brown or white jasmine rice and other various side dishes, often vegetable dishes.