Li Qing | Fishmonger Tips

What comes to mind when you hear the words “Chinese New Year”? Things like red packets, yummy snacks and, of course, a mouth-watering array of Chinese New Year dishes for reunion dinner might come to mind.

Beyond simply being delicious, certain dishes are said to bring prosperity and good fortune because of the traditional symbolism of their names and appearances. Luckily for seafood lovers, there are also many dishes filled with fish, crustaceans, and more to satisfy your seafood cravings!

Prepare to welcome the Year of the Tiger with these Chinese New Year seafood dishes that will bring blessings to you and your family!

1. Pen Cai

Pen Cai is a traditional dish where premium seafood and other ingredients are presented in a pot filled with soup stock. You can add anything you want to the centrepiece dish, but the most common seafood ingredients include abalone, prawns, fish maw, scallops, sea cucumber, and oysters.

Filled to the brim with layers of luxurious delicacies, this lunar new year classic symbolises prosperity and abundance. It is a communal dish that the entire family can enjoy together!

2. Steamed Whole Fish

Fish is an integral part of any Chinese New Year celebration. The word for fish ( 鱼) sounds just like another word meaning surplus or extra (yú 余). Hence, whole fish is believed to bring abundance and wealth. Popular types of fish include Chinese mud carp, Crucian carp and catfish.

Tradition dictates that the fish be eaten last, signifying surplus every year. A few other traditions of eating fish during the new year include:

  • The fish head should face the most senior elder or any distinguished guests, representing hospitality and respect.
  • The one seated facing the fish head eats first.
  • The fish shouldn’t be moved, while the two people facing the head and tail should drink together for good luck.

Of course, many of these traditions are no longer practised today, but they can still make for a good time with loads of laughs!

3. Salmon Yu Sheng

In the past, Yu Sheng was served only on the 7th day of the Chinese New Year, also known as “Renri”. However, these days, Yu Sheng is a popular Chinese New Year dish and families and friends can enjoy it several times throughout the celebrations.

The Chinese meaning of this dish literally means “raw fish”, making salmon a popular choice as the star ingredient. Other ingredients include shredded vegetables like carrots, radish, ginger, peanuts, pepper, and crackers — all of which have their own symbolism and meanings. The ingredients are added one by one, before they are finally tossed by diners high up in the air using chopsticks while saying blessings for the new year. The louder, the better!

4. Pork & Shrimp Dumplings

Pork and shrimp dumplings (jiǎozi 饺子) are commonly enjoyed during Chinese New Year.

The dumplings symbolise wealth as they are shaped like the ancient Chinese gold ingot — oval, boat-like pieces of gold used as currency in imperial China. It is tradition for many families to wrap their own dumplings at home, with some even secretly hiding a coin in one dumpling. The lucky recipient of that dumpling is said to have a prosperous year ahead! While pork and shrimp dumplings are delicious when fried, they were traditionally steamed.

5. Oysters With Black Sea Moss

Though traditionally made using dried oysters, there’s no reason why you can’t treat yourself this new year to a hearty dish of fresh oysters instead! As you might guess by now, this dish is a popular item on Chinese New Year menus due to its auspicious-sounding name — the characters for oysters and sea moss (háoshì fàcài 蚝豉发菜) sound almost exactly like a phrase meaning prosperity and good fortune (hǎoshì fācái 好事发财).

Oysters, black sea moss and mushrooms are braised till juicy and tender in a delicious marinade packed with umami flavours. It may not look like the most beautiful dish, but there’s truly no better way to usher in a prosperous year ahead!

6. Dry Fried Prawns (Har Lok)

This Cantonese dish was the prawn dish of choice for a long while before being dethroned by cereal prawns! To make this dish, fresh prawns are deep-fried and then coated with a spicy, tangy sauce.

The Cantonese word for prawns, “har”, mimics the sound of ringing laughter, and prawns are thought to bring happiness to the family in the new year.

Order Festive CNY Takeaways at Greenwood Fish Market

Looking for fresh seafood in Singapore for your Chinese New Year dishes? Skip the trip to the seafood market and shop online at Greenwood Fish Market today.

Don’t miss out on our special CNY Takeaways, available from 18 January to 18 February 2022, with unique dishes such as Build-Your-Own Seafood Yu Sheng and “Nian Nian You Yu” Prosperity Salmon Wellington!