Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year

My earliest memories of Chinese New Year come from when I was in elementary school. Each year we would make red lanterns and hang them around the classroom from the ceiling and make puppet dragons out of brown paper lunch bags.

Being raised in San Francisco you had a front row seat to witness this amazing 16-day celebration being held in Chinatown as they celebrated China’s most important holiday.

This year Chinese New Year begins on February 11th  and ends February 26th.

Originally the holiday began with the Chinese lunar calendar, which is why you may have often heard this holiday be called Lunar New Year. While there are several traditions that are carried out during the new year celebration let's look at how food plays a role during the celebration. 


Dumplings date back almost 2,000 years. During the New Year celebration dumplings are an important New Year’s Eve food. The half moon fold that we are all familiar with is shaped like a silver ingot, a currency in ancient China.

It is believed that the more dumplings you make and eat the wealthier you will be in the New Year.

Another familiar fold is the small purses-another symbol of wealth. Typically, families get together on Chinese New Years Eve and make dumplings together. Dumpling wrappers also known as gyoza wrappers or pot sticker wrappers are made with wheat flour and water. The ingredients of the dumplings can be pork, chicken, shrimp, or vegetables. The dumplings can be pan fried, steamed, or deep fried. 

Spring Rolls

The Lunar New Year marks the beginning of Spring.

Spring rolls symbolize the start of the year to come.

Spring rolls vary in shape from small rectangles to large flat circles. The cooking method we are most familiar with is fried, but spring rolls can be steamed or baked. The traditional fillings for spring rolls are pork, Chinese cabbage, carrots, and shitake mushrooms.

A bit of history: During the Jin Dynasty, people would arrange spring rolls and vegetables together on a plate. This was known as the “Spring Platter”. During the Spring Festival, emperors would award officials with Spring Platters. Each platter is said to have been worth thousands.


There is some debate on the beginnings of noodles but they play an important role in Chinese cuisine and especially during the Chinese New Year. In the early beginnings of Chinese history, noodles were called soup pancakes. People would rip the dough into small pieces and throw them into the pot. It was not until the Tang Dynasty when people began to roll them into the noodle shape that we are familiar with today.

Long noodles are served during Chinese New Year to symbolize “Long Life”. People eat noodles on the second day of the New Year celebration for longevity.

In some places it is customary to cook dumplings and noodles together. This is called gold silk and gold ingots. Another way to express people's wishes for prosperity.

Peking Duck

Duck is one of the most popular dishes during Chinese New Year, It represents a healthy, happy and prosperous new year.

The skin of a Peking Duck is red which is considered a lucky color in the Chinese culture.

Peking duck is always served sliced very thin nestled in a steamed bun or thin pastry and finished off with cucumbers, scallions, and hoisin sauce.

Learning to cook each of these foods from my Cuisine of Asia chef at the Culinary Institute of America, Chef Shirley Chang, taught me to not only learn the skillset of making the above items but to understand their origin and history of each dish. So for that, I thank you Chef Chang for deepening my love of Asian cuisine !

Peking Duck Recipe

7 tablespoons honey
5 tablespoons 5 spice seasoning
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
Kosher Salt
White Pepper


Mix together the  first five ingredients above in bowl and place to the side.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
With fork prick the entire duck.
Place duck in sink on plate and pour boiling water onto the duck.
Place duck on roasting pan and pat dry .\
Season entire duck and inside cavity with salt and pepper.
Rub marinade through the entire duck including the cavity. Cover with plastic wrap and poke holes through out covering.
Place in place in refrigerator for overnight.

Cooking Instructions

Place uncovered duck on wire rack inside of roasting pan. Bake for 40 minutes and turn the pan around and bake an additional 35 minutes.
Take out the oven and let rest. Slice duck thinly and enjoy!

Accent Drawing doodle with tea

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