On February 12, Asian communities across the globe will start celebrating the Lunar New Year. Also known as the Spring Festival or Chinese New Year — though Chinese people aren't the only ones who celebrate the occasion — Oprah Magazine reports that the Lunar New Year honors the first new moon of the lunisolar calendars that are used in Asian countries like Vietnam, China, North and South Korea, and Tibet.
Between a few days and several weeks, Lunar New Year celebrations will differ based on the culture. But overall, the holiday is all about bringing good fortune into the new year. Houses are cleaned, firecrackers are lit, red envelopes of money are gifted, dragon and lion dances occur, and of course, delicious and traditional foods are eaten.
With that in mind, we're sharing a few Lunar New Year recipes that are traditional to the holiday across countries.
1. My Korean Kitchen Manduguk (Korean Dumpling Soup)
This popular Korean New Year dumpling soup is typically made in North Korea, whereas South Korea tends to feature a Korean rice cake soup.
2. Nom Life Pork Dumplings
Dumplings are another symbolic Chinese New Year dish because, per Oprah Magazine, they are meant to look like inglot: ancient gold and silver coins. Dumplings — like these pork, chili oil, and black rice vinegar ones — represent prosperity.
3. Healthy Nibbles Turnip Cake (Lo Bak Go)
Another Chinese New Year staple, this dim sum dish is made of Chinese sausage, dried shrimp, dried scallops, and daikon.
4. Cooking with Lane Thit Kho (Vietnamese Caramelized, Braised Pork with Eggs)
Known as a Vietnamese comfort food made to celebrate Tet/Lunar New Year in Vietnam, thit kho consists of braised pork belly and pork shoulder in a caramelized sauce with jasmine rice and hard-boiled eggs.
5. China Sichuan Food Steamed Whole Fish
For Chinese New Year, a whole fish symbolizes an abundance of food and wealth. This particular recipe highlights a Cantonese take on the dish.
6. The Curious Chickpea Tibetan Vegetable Momos
According to YoWangdu Experience Tibet, momos (Tibetan steamed dumplings) are popular at Losar/Tibetan New Year parties. However, these are not eaten on the first day of the new year, since their closed shape is seen as unlucky. This particular version is completely vegan.
7. Viet World Kitchen Banh Chung Tet Sticky Rice Cakes
"At the center of Vietnamese Tet menus is banh chung, a special sticky rice cake filled with butter yellow mung beans and fatty pork," writes Vietnamese food blogger and chef Andrea Nguyen. "It's hearty yet delicately fragrant and stained green because it's wrapped in tropical green leaves (la dong in Vietnam and banana leaf and bamboo leaves abroad)."
8. Oh My Food Recipes Chinese New Year Nian Gao
This rice flour cake is synonymous with the Chinese New Year, and symbolizes an increase in prosperity. Though this recipe is made in an Instant Pot or pressure cooker, there are plenty of recipes that only require a steamer or slow cooker.
9. The Woks of Life Stir-Fried Rice Cakes (Nian Gao)
This savory rice cake dish features leafy greens, pork (or chicken), and of course, stir-fried rice cakes. According to Steamy Kitchen, chǎo niángāo is the Shanghainese and Korean stir-fry version of nian gao.
Though these vegan, gluten-free Korean tea cookies do need to be made with a special Dasik mold, we'd say they're worth the extra purchase.
11. RunAwayRice Sticky Rice Balls in Ginger Syrup (Chè Trôi Nước)
"The slightly chewy, sticky dough with its [mung] bean filling and oh-so-sweet ginger syrup are a heavenly combination," writes Vietnamese food blogger Trang. "My Mom made this every year around Tet/Lunar New Year."
12. YoWangdu Experience Tibet Khapse
Khapse is a deep-fried pastry eaten on special occasions like Losar/Tibetan New Year. They can be made in many fun shapes, but this particular recipe features twisted strips.
13. Red House Spice Tang Yuan, Chinese Glutinous Rice Balls
This sweet recipe is traditionally served on the last day of Chinese New Year. The filling typically consists of sugar, nuts, and lard. However, this particular recipe can also be made with black sesame seeds.