CNY Auspicious ingredients and their symbolic meanings

A Thermomix® Guide to Lucky Food for Chinese New Year

Do you know all the auspicious symbolic meaning of the ingredients we are shopping for Chinese New Year? Here is a list for your reference and be sure to have these dishes planned in your Reunion Dinner and the following New Year days for a stellar start to a new year! Armed with your Thermomix®, cooking for an elaborate dinner will be a breeze. Check out our Chinese New Year eBook here or scroll on down for more cooking inspiration and to read the list of lucky ingredients and dishes to cook this CNY!

(1) Noodles = Longevity, long life 长寿, 长长久久, 顺顺利利
Make one-pot stir-fry noodle or soup noodle for a CNY lunch using premium ingredients such as #7, 8, 9, 11, 12, 15, 16, 17, 18 down the list below and leftovers from Reunion Dinner to spruce up the dish for the occasion.

(2) Pineapples (Pineapple Tarts) = Arrival of prosperity 旺来
Nothing signifies CNY more than pineapple tarts as it means “ong lai” in Hokkien or arrival of prosperity! Armed with our Thermomix®, there is no easier solution to make our own tarts that matches our taste preferences such as more fibrous jam (blend less), less sweet (reduce the sugar), more brown (add cinnamon and brown sugar), dryer, wetter jam, open face or ball tarts!
Check out our favourite pineapple tart recipes here.
Watch Ong Lai Queen, Mavis Ong’s tutorial on how to make pineapple tarts from scratch using your Thermomix®.

(3) Mandarin Oranges = Sounds like “gold” thus, symbolises wealth 大吉(桔)大利
A lucky fruit for your hosts when you do your CNY visiting, every home will have mandarin oranges to exchange with the guests. Use these to make healthy and naturally sweet orange sorbet , orange bingsu or throw one into the Thermomix® to make a one-orange chiffon cake.

(4) Sweet cakes (Nian Gao 年糕)= Better/higher achievements 年年高(糕)升
Make your own nian gao using this recipe.

Thermomix® Nian Gao Cooking Video

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Thermomix® CNY Home-made Niao Gao

Thermomix® Recipe for Nian Gao 年糕

  • 1 Banana Leaf, blanched, cut into pieces
  • 250g Brown Sugar
  • 250g Water
  • 250g Glutinous Rice Flour
  • 10g Cooking Oil
  • 1500g Hot Water
  1. Line 2 round tins (10 cm) with banana leaf. Place sugar into mixing bowl, pulverise Turbo/ 2s/ 2 Times.
  2. Add water, heat 3 min/ 60°C/ Speed 2.
  3. Add glutinous rice flour and cooking oil, mix 30s/ Speed 4. Transfer the mixture into prepared tins. Cover the tins with cling film. Arrange the tins to Varoma dish.
  4. Place hot water into a cleaned mixing bowl, set Varoma into position, steam 90 min/Varoma/Speed 2. Cool completely before un-moulding. Serve as desired.

(5) Whole fish with head & tail = Abundance, and completion of projects/tasks with “head” and “tail” 年年有余(鱼)
A must-have dish on the CNY Reunion table to signify the coming year will be filled with abundance, the fish must be complete with head and tail. Shop for whole fish that fits the Thermomix® varoma tray or your largest steaming plate for varoma. The fish should have clear (not cloudy) eyes, firm flesh and red gills. Check out these recipes :
Steam Fish with Ginger and Scallions
Thai Style Steamed Fish
Nyonya Steamed Fish

(6) Dumplings = Resembles gold ingots and thus, symbolises wealth 招财进宝 (饺子=元宝)
Dumplings are very versatile – you can wrap with meat or make it totally plant based with mushrooms and tofu for protein. Eat it fried or steamed. Wrap each dumpling with chive to “dress it up” for the occasion.
Try these Thermomix® dumpling recipes : here and here.
Watch how you can make steamed dumplings from scratch.

Thermomix® Prawn Dumpling cooking video

(7) Dried Oysters = Prosperous business
Dried oyster sounds “ho si” or 好事, sounding like good deeds or good events in Chinese, therefore, a lucky ingredient to include in dishes planned for important occasions like birthdays and CNY. Dried oysters are usually added into stews, soups or cooked with other lucky ingredients like the black moss during Chinese New Year. You should rinse and soak them before use. Try this recipe that uses dried oysters. Lettuce (生菜) used as a base, is another auspicious ingredient that sounds like “生财) or growing wealth.

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Thermomix® Shiitake Mushrooms, Oysters, Abalone, Sea Cucumber and Moss with Broccoli

Thermomix® recipe for Shiitake Mushrooms, Oysters, Abalone, Sea Cucumber and Moss with Broccoli

  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 40 g shallots
  • 10 g old ginger, cut in thin slices
  • 20 g cooking oil
  • 600 g whole chicken legs, (approx. 2 legs), preferably kampung chicken, cut in pieces (4-5 cm)
  • 8 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked to soften, stems removed
  • 30g black moss (rinsed and soaked, drain before use)
  • 6 large dried oysters (rinsed and soaked)
  • 500 g water
  • 3 dried scallops, large-sized, soaked to soften
  • 4-6 abalones, small-sized, soaked and cleaned (Tip: use canned ones)
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • 1 ½ tsp dark soy sauce
  • 1100 g chicken stock
  • 200 g dried sea cucumbers, soaked to soften and cleaned, cut in pieces
  • 15 g Chinese rice wine (Shaoxing Hua Tiao)
  • 50 g broccoli florets, boiled
  1. Place garlic cloves and shallots in mixing bowl, chop 4 sec/speed 5. Scrape down sides of mixing bowl with spatula.
  2. Add ginger slices, cinnamon stick, star anise and cooking oil, sauté 5 min/120°C/speed 1.
  3. Add chicken and mushrooms, stir fry 3 min/100°C/Reverse/speed spoon Transfer to a bowl.
  4. Place water in mixing bowl, set Varoma dish into position. Place a steaming bowl in Varoma dish, add scallops and oyster into it. Close Varoma lid and steam 25 min/Varoma/speed 1. Remove Varoma and set aside. Empty mixing bowl.
  5. Insert blade cover. Place chicken-mushroom mixture, soaked abalones, oyster sauce, light soy sauce, salt, dark soy sauce and chicken stock in mixing bowl, cook 60 min/98°C/speed Spoon Stir.
  6. Add sea cucumbers, cook 30 min/98°C/speed Spoon Stir until the meat is tender and soft. Add rice wine and moss during the last 3minutes of cooking. Transfer to a serving bowl, garnish with boiled broccoli florets and reserved steamed scallops and oysters. Serve hot.

(8) Abalone = Good fortune 富贵如意
Once a year, we see cans of abalone stacked up in supermarkets and that is always a sure indication that CNY is around the corner. This ubiquitous delicacy may be eaten as it is, dunk into steamboat (hotpots), or cooked with any meat or vegetables as an “elevated” dish for the lunar new year. Check out this Shiitake Mushroom Abalone Sea Cucumber Stew recipe made easy with your Thermomix®. Abalone are available in cans for immediate use, or in dried or frozen forms. Depending on how much time you have to cook abalone dishes, can ones are the most convenient as they are ready-to-eat once they are opened.

(9) Black moss = Getting wealthy 发菜=发财
Black moss is another ingredient we always include in CNY dishes as it signifies getting wealthy in the new year. Add additional umami flavour when you add moss into stir fried vegetables.

(10) Glass noodles/Chinese vermicelli = silver chains 绵绵流长,好日子不断
The chewy glass noodles or tang hun is a crowd favourite in steam boats and stir fried dishes. If you’ve quit shark’s fins, why not make some mock fin soup using glass noodles?
Cook Mock Fins Soup with your Thermomix®.

Thermomix® | Cookidoo® Mock Fins Soup

(11) Black fungus = Longevity
For those who love their vegetables or elderlies who prefer to go light with vegetarian dishes during CNY, black fungus adds a meaty flavour without the heaviness of animal protein. Try this Stir Fried Vegetables recipe that uses black fungus, omit prawns to keep it vegetarian.

(12) Prawns = Laughters and happiness 嘻嘻哈哈
Prawns is pronounced “ha” (Cantonese) / “hei” (Hokkien) which are phonetically similar to laughter in Cantonese and Hokkien – thus, prawns are always included in special occasions such as weddings, birthday dinners and also as a dish during CNY.
Check out our many Thermomix® prawn recipes which you may add into your CNY menu.
Steamed prawn vermicelli
Kam Heong Prawns

Thermomix® Steamed Prawn Vermicelli cooking video

(13) Turnip cake = Luck 步步高升
Turnip or white radish is an auspicious ingredient because it sounds like “choi tau” or “cai tou” in Chinese, which sounds like good luck.
Slice up white radish to make Pen Cai (phoon choi) 盆菜.
Or chop and shred it up to make turnip/radish cake with your Thermomix® which reduces the tedious effort required to manually shred in conventional cooking with a one pot shred, blend, cook and steam solution.

Thermomix® Steamed Radish Cake cooking video
Thermomix® Phoon Choy Cooking Video 美善品盆菜烹饪视频

(14) Meatballs (a.k.a ngor hiang) = Family reunion 团团圆圆
Round shapes are lucky as it symbolises family togetherness, completeness and eternity. Make some meat balls from scratch with your Thermomix® for your hotpots or shaped them and have them frozen for quick meals during busy week days.

(15) Chicken = Togetherness 大吉大利
Chicken is “ji” in Chinese (putonghua) which sounds like “ji” or 吉 in Chinese, which means lucky. During the Lunar New Year, all chicken dishes should be cooked and served whole. Use leftovers to cook up a soupy broth with noodles or add into a smooth congee cooked with your Thermomix® for a comfort breakfast in the morning of Lunar New Year Day 1.

(16) Duck = Getting Richer 大富大贵
Ducks are considered auspicious because traditionally only the rich and wealthy can afford to eat ducks. Thus, a grand banquet dinner is only regarded “complete or whole” when served with whole duck (and chicken) and seafood. Check out this Thermomix® Peking-style Duck Pancakes recipe.

(17) Mixed vegetables = Family harmony 炒菜好彩头
No Chinese meal is complete without a vegetable dish. Pick your vegetable dishes in Cookidoo® by typing in Stir Fried Vegetables in the search bar for quick and easy stir fries that cook in just minutes in the Thermomix®.

(18) Onions = Cleverness 聪明,吃葱越吃越聪明
Leeks sounds like clever in Chinese. Thus, families like to include leeks in New Year dishes so that the younger generation can get “smarter” in the new year. Filter “leek” as the ingredient to search in Cookidoo® for inspiration.

(19) Sweets = Good fortune, sweetness in the new year 甜甜蜜蜜
No meal is complete without desserts. The CNY dessert may be sweet soups, baked cookies or steamed cakes! Plan some of these for your CNY menu, as well as, to host your visiting guests during the lunar new year.

Black Rice Pudding
Mango Pudding
Red Dates Longan Peach Gum Dessert
Gula Melaka Huat Kueh
Sugarcane Water Chestnut Drink

(20) Rice = Abundance in wealth 丰盛常满
Rice is an Asian/Chinese staple. Rice completes each meal, including Chinese New Year meals. When rice is cooked, they swell in size and bulk up in volume – symbolic to wealth growth and fruit bearing harvests. Rice is believed to bring luck into the new year. Besides plain rice that goes well with richly flavoured dishes in the Reunion menu, rice can also be cooked with other ingredients into fulfilling dishes like the Lotus Wrapped Glutinous Rice; Waxed Meal Rice; Rice Pearl Balls, and many other varieties of convenient and flavourful One-Pot-Rice dishes.

Auspicious One-Pot Chicken, Mushrooms and Chinese Sausage Rice

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Auspicious One-Pot Chicken, Mushrooms, Chinese Sausage Rice
  • 600 – 650 g whole chicken legs (approx. 2 whole legs), cut in pieces (4 cm)
  • 50 g light soy sauce
  • 50 g oyster sauce
  • 30 g dark soy sauce
  • 1 tsp white pepper powder
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 20 g fresh ginger
  • 20 g salted fish, toasted (see tips), cut in small pieces
  • 20 g cooking oil
  • 5 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked to soften, stems removed, cut in slices
  • 100 g Chinese sausages (approx.. 2 sausages), casing removed, cut in thin slices
  • 450 g water
  • 30 g Chinese rice wine (Shaoxing Hua Tiao)
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • 350 g Basmati, rinsed
  • 1 – 2 sprigs spring onions, chopped, to garnish
  1. Place a bowl on mixing bowl lid, weigh in chicken legs, 20 g light soy sauce, 20 g oyster sauce and 10 g dark soy sauce. Add ½ tsp white pepper powder and sesame oil to the bowl and mix. Set aside for 5 minutes.
  2. Place garlic cloves and ginger slices in mixing bowl, chop 5 sec/speed 6. Scrape down sides of mixing bowl with spatula.
  3. Add salted fish and cooking oil, sauté 5 min/120°C/speed 2.
  4. Add mushroom slices, Chinese sausage and reserved chicken, cook 5 min/120°C/Reverse/speed spoon .
  5. Add water, 30 g light soy sauce, 30 g oyster sauce, 20 g dark soy sauce, ½ tsp white pepper powder, rice wine and sugar, boil 7 min/100°C/Reverse/speed spoon.
  6. Add rice, start Rice Cooker Mode. Let stand for 15 minutes. Transfer cooked rice to a serving bowl and mix well with spatula. Garnish with chopped spring onions. Serve warm.

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