THE LIST: 10 'lucky' Chinese New Year dishes

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 07 2013 03:16 PM | Updated as of Feb 13 2013 07:39 PM

MANILA, Philippines – The Chinese New Year celebration is not only a time for family and friends – it is also a festival riddled with superstitions.

Feng shui practitioners have always recommended ways to welcome the coming lunar year, from wearing a new pair of underwear to not getting mad at anyone the entire day.

Food, of course, is not spared from Chinese superstition, with some dishes believed to bring good luck and prosperity throughout the year.

Many of these are served in almost all Chinese restaurants in Metro Manila, including Tin Hau of Mandarin Oriental Manila and Shang Palace of Makati Shangri-La, which offer Chinese New Year set menus.

Here are ten of these “lucky” dishes:

1. Duck

Peking Duck Rolls, Marinated Jelly Fish and Ngo Hiang Rolls at Mandarin Oriental Manila's Tin Hau. Photo by Karen Flores, ABS-CBNnews.com

Duck symbolizes fidelity in Chinese culture, and is usually served Peking-style – roasted and served with thin Chinese pancakes and hoisin sauce.

2. Prawn or shrimp

Wok-fried Prawns with XO Sauce at Mandarin Oriental Manila's Tin Hau. Photo by Karen Flores, ABS-CBNnews.com

For the Chinese, any shrimp dish symbolizes happiness and well-being. When translated to Mandarin or Cantonese, the word shrimp is similar to the sound of laughing.

3. Whole fish

Steamed Live Garoupa at Makati Shangri-La's Shang Palace. Photo by Karen Flores, ABS-CBNnews.com

Fish is considered lucky because the Chinese word for it, “yu,” sounds like the word for riches and abundance. The Chinese believe that fish should be served whole – with its head and tail intact – to avoid bad luck throughout the year.

4. Black moss

Braised Black Moss and Bailing Mushrooms with Vegetables in Oyster Sauce at Mandarin Oriental Manila's Tin Hau. Photo by Karen Flores, ABS-CBNnews.com

This vegetable that resembles a clump of black hair symbolizes prosperity because it sounds like “fat choi,” the Chinese word for the phrase “be prosperous”. Black moss is usually served with mushrooms and oysters during Chinese New Year celebrations.

5. Dried oysters

Dried Oysters with Mushroom and Tofu Skin at Makati Shangri-La's Shang Palace. Photo by Karen Flores, ABS-CBNnews.com

Oysters are not only popular aphrodisiacs but are also considered lucky in Chinese culture. Dried oysters, in particular, are said to direct prosperity toward good business. During Chinese New Year, these are usually served with tofu skin and vegetables such as mushrooms.

6. Dumplings

Siomai at Makati Shangri-La's Shang Palace. Photo by Karen Flores, ABS-CBNnews.com

Dumplings such as shao mai (or siomai in the Philippines) symbolize wealth and prosperity in Chinese culture because it resembles a silver ingot or money.

7. Noodles

Birthday/Prosperity Noodles at Makati Shangri-La's Shang Palace. Photo by Karen Flores, ABS-CBNnews.com

One of the most popular dishes served during Chinese New Year, birthdays and other important occasions, noodles are said to symbolize long life. The Chinese believe that noodles should be served and eaten uncut to avoid bad luck.

8. Rice in lotus leaf

Fragrant Rice with Dried Seafood Treasure in Lotus Leaf at Mandarin Oriental Manila's Tin Hau. Photo by Karen Flores, ABS-CBNnews.com

Rice in lotus leaf, which also contains dried seafood, is said to bring fertility and abundance in wealth. It’s a very filling dish, too.

9. Anything round

Egg Tarts at Makati Shangri-La's Shang Palace. Photo by Karen Flores, ABS-CBNnews.com

For the Chinese, the round shape signifies family reunion so they serve round fruits such as oranges, and even hard candy balls. Another popular dessert is the flaky egg tart.

10. Nian gao

Nian gao at Mandarin Oriental Manila's Tin Hau. Photo by Karen Flores, ABS-CBNnews.com

Nian gao, more popularly known here as tikoy, is considered lucky as it symbolizes achieving new heights in the coming year. Nian gao literally means “year cake” in Chinese, but the word gao may also mean tall or high. Today, nian gao is sold in different shapes, sizes and flavors such as coffee and coconut.