Find 36 of our BEST Lunar New Year Recipes for this year’s family banquet! I’ll also show you how to turn your favorite dishes into a celebration menu. Enjoy a traditional New Year’s dinner, a lineup that even your parents would be impressed with or a wonderful vegetarian feast – all with authentic Chinese and Vietnamese flavors!
Table of contents
- The Most Exciting Time For Our Family – Traditions And All!
- Food And Symbolism
- Appetizers To Get The Party Started
- Our Must-Have Mains
- Nourishing Soups For Everyone
- Bring It All Together With These Desserts
- Our Favorite Banquet Menus
- Want More Home Cooked Recipes?
- Join The Family!
The Most Exciting Time For Our Family – Traditions And All!
Lunar New Year is a time where two of the most important things in my life come together. It’s family and food, all celebrated together in a season of fun and good fortune!
This period is has all the hustle and bustle of Christmas because everyone at home gets busy: Mum’s cleaning the house and preparing gifts, Grandma’s cooking her annual jai, Dad’s making reservations for family reunion dinners and my brother and I are tidying up our rooms.
Mum still talks about how special this time was while growing up in Vietnam because it was one of the only times she would get a brand new outfit and pair of shoes. Can you imagine that? No new anything any other day except on the New Year!
Now that she’s an adult, Mum takes part in the tradition where red pockets are given out to the children. These 利是 (lay si) are filled with money and given out to children in the family as well as friends’ children.
Imagine the excitement when receiving one! The child will then follow it up by thanking Mum (or whoever has given them one) with a combination of many phrases including:
- 恭喜發財 (Gong Hei Fat Choy) – Wishing you prosperity and wealth.
- 身体健康 (Sun Tai Gin Hong) – Wishing you good health.
- 年年有余 (Nin Nin Yau Yu) – Wishing you prosperity every year.
- 心想事成 (Sum Seung Si Seng) – Accomplish all your heart’s wishes.
- 萬事如意 (Man Si Yu Yi) – May 10,000 things go your way.
It’s a wonderful tradition that celebrates family, longevity and prosperity!
Food And Symbolism
Sun Lin/Nin Fai Lok (新年快乐) or the Vietnamese counterpart Chúc Mừng Năm Mới might be how we say ‘Happy New Year’, but the festivities are celebrated in the food that we eat as well.
Often ingredients are chosen for their what they represent. Typically, it has to do with the name and how it sounds or its physical resemblance to another revered object.
These ingredients are said to promote wealth and good fortune for the family.
- Fish. The word in Chinese (鱼) sounds very similar to a word that means ‘surplus’ and the fish itself is often served whole to bring wealth and luck.
- Dumplings (Jiaozi). These tend to look like the old Chinese gold ingots, a past form of Chinese currency.
- Black moss. Pronounced ‘fat choy’ in Cantonese, the first character sounds identical to the word that means to be rich.
- Nian Gao. 年糕 sounds similar to the way you might say ‘to achieve higher year after year’, which is a sign for a growth mindset and developing wealth.
Food in this category promotes long life and health, which is key to a multi-generational family.
- Longevity noodles. Also known as e-fu noodles, these remain long and unbroken to symbolize the length of one’s life. They can also be served at a birthday, wedding or when celebrating a newborn baby.
Many of these ingredients have made it into our celebration menus, but the most important part is that families get a chance to celebrate being together, even if it’s just once a year!
Appetizers To Get The Party Started
My family always loves starting a banquet off with a delicious nibbly treat. They get the party and conversation going and set the mood for a great evening.
Our Must-Have Mains
These are dishes that you might eat at home in a small cozy gathering or with 10+ people at a restaurant. You’ll find many of these Lunar New Year recipes in our prepared menus below!
Nourishing Soups For Everyone
A feast isn’t complete without a bowl of hot soup to warm the stomach up. These Lunar New Year recipes include traditional Chinese AND Vietnamese ones.
Bring It All Together With These Desserts
Once your meals are finished, reset the palette with a delicious dessert. Choose from something refreshing or a hearty to finalize your banquet!
Our Favorite Banquet Menus
Every family celebrates in their own way, but here is what our family likes to do:
- A Traditional Chinese Banquet – This is very similar to the Chinese Banquet Menu in our Asian Holiday Recipes post because this is really what our family eats and we want to keep it authentic that way.
- A Traditional Vietnamese Banquet – We may not have all the classic Tết recipes on the blog yet, but I’ve found the iconic dishes from some of my favorite Vietnamese bloggers.
- Mum’s Vegetarian Banquet – We can’t forget about all the delicious vegetarian food Mum and Grandma makes for the celebratory season!
Menu 1 – A Traditional Chinese Banquet
Our typical celebration menu has a lot of seafood. This amount of food typically serves 10-15 people (we often celebrate the New Year with our extended family), but you can always adjust it to your setting.
- Salted Egg Yolk Prawns (牛油黃金虾)
- Ginger Scallion Lobster (蔥薑龍蝦)
- Chinese Steamed Fish with Ginger and Shallots
- Stir Fried Pea Shoots with Garlic
- E-Fu Noodles with Roast Duck
- Dried Scallop and Egg White Fried Rice (瑤柱蛋白炒飯)
- Sago Soup With Taro (西米露)
- A fresh fruit platter
Menu 2 – A Traditional Vietnamese Banquet
Here are some traditional Tết dishes that a Vietnamese family might enjoy. They’re all generally served at the same time as one another, which means there isn’t a need for appetizers.
These side dishes are all served with a generous bowl of rice.
- Thịt Kho (Vietnamese Braised Pork Belly and Eggs in Coconut Water)
- Canh Khổ Qua (Stuffed Bittermelon Soup)
- Bánh Chưng (Northern-Style Sticky Rice Cake) or Bánh Tét (Central/Southern-Style Rice Cake)
- Đồ Chua (Pickled Carrot and Daikon)
- Thịt Heo Quay (Crispy Roast Pork)
- Vietnamese Glutinous Rice Balls with Ginger Syrup (Chè Trôi Nước)
- A fresh fruit platter
Menu 3 – Mum’s Vegetarian Banquet
Much like the Traditional Vietnamese Banquet, these family side dishes can be enjoyed with a bowl of rice as well.
Served with a bowl of hot rice:
Have a wonderful time with your loved ones celebrating this Lunar New Year! The Wok & Kin family wishes yours a happy, healthy and prosperous year.
Gong Hei Fat Choy!
Want More Home Cooked Recipes?
This post was originally published on 28/01/21 and updated with new links and dishes in January 2023.