Prepare for your 2023 Lunar New Year feast by making one of these 15+ crowd pleasing recipes. Included in this round up are my favorite appetizers, entrees, and desserts.
It’s crazy to think that we are at the end of one year and the beginning of another on the Lunar calendar. This year is the year of the rabbit! Families from all over the world celebrate this holiday with a feast on new year’s eve that includes a variety of dishes to welcome the new year. Over the many years of celebrating this holiday, I’ve eaten many traditional and some not so traditional dishes, so today, I wanted to share some of my favorite Lunar New Year recipes for this holiday.
What is Lunar New Year and how is it celebrated?
Lunar New Year marks the beginning of a new year according to the lunar calendar which tracks the year in moon cycles. It is celebrated predominantly in Asian countries and cultures like China, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, and Taiwan. Growing up, I always referred to this holiday as Chinese New Year since my family is originally from China. In Vietnam where my parents were born, they refer to it as Tet.
In Chinese cultures, Chinese New Year is celebrated with family and friends gathering for a large feast on New Year’s eve. People usually say “Happy New Year” and/or “Gong Hei Fat Choy” which in Cantonese wishes the recipient prosperity for the new year (you’re basically saying you hope the recipient gets rich lol). And children receive red envelopes with “lucky” money from elders (your parents, grandparents, uncles etc).
What is eaten at the Lunar New Year feast?
There is a lot of symbolism related to the foods eaten at a Lunar New Year feast, and every family does it differently. My family consistently has whole duck, whole chicken, and boiled whole shrimp. It’s important to serve the whole animal because it symbolizes a good beginning and end to the year. Each specific dish also represents something different. For example, chicken represents wealth and wholeness, and duck represents fertility. There is no clear guideline on what can and cannot be served, but typically, I always say serve what your family likes. Below are a few of my personal favorite dishes for Lunar New Year.
Tips on how to have the best Lunar New Year feast
Make it a potluck
Personally, I think it is crazy that 1 person cooks a feast that feeds 10-20 people. That’s a lot! Unless you want to cook the entire dinner, ask guests to pitch in with a dish or two. Sometimes, guests will surprise you and make something you don’t know how to make, so you can try something new!
Buy some of your dishes
One way to reduce your cooking time is to buy some of your dishes. Sometimes, a restaurant will make a dish better than you will. For example, I still can’t make roasted pork with crispy skin to save my life. At least not on the level a true Cantonese BBQ place can make it. One pro trip is to call the restaurant ahead of time and pre-order your dishes because many restaurants are overwhelmed the day of, so they can run out of the dishes you want.
Make some of your dishes a day ahead
There are a lot of dishes, especially desserts, you can make a day ahead of time. Cakes, cookies, and candies will last overnight.
My favorite appetizers and entrees to help you celebrate Lunar New Year! Some are traditional. Some are non-traditional. But they’re all guaranteed crowd pleasers!
1. Five Spice Roasted Duck
2. Vietnamese Egg Rolls (Cha Gio)
3. Hainanese Chicken Rice (Com Ga Hai Nam)
4. Banh Bao (Vietnamese Steamed Pork Buns)
5. Chinese Steamed Fish
6. Bo Kho (Vietnamese Beef Stew)
7. Pate Chaud (Banh Pate So)
8. Vietnamese Shaking Beef (Bo Luc Lac)
9. Five Spice Salmon
10. Salt and Pepper Shrimp
11. Chinese Sticky Rice
12. Goi Ga (Vietnamese Chicken Salad)
13. Garlic Noodles
A good feast is never complete without dessert. Below are my favorite dessert recipes to serve for the new year.
14. Vietnamese Coffee Tiramisu
15. Chinese Almond Cookies
16. Black Sesame Rice Krispie Treats
17. Thai Tea Creme Brulee
18. White Chocolate Matcha Cookies
Did you make any of these dishes?
If you made any of these dishes, I would love to see!
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15+ Lunar New Year Recipes for 2023, Including Five Spice Roasted Duck
- Pat dry the duck. Combine five spice powder and salt. Rub the entire duck with the five spice powder mixture. Make sure to rub the seasoning in the cavity of the duck as well.
- Let the duck marinate in the fridge overnight.
- The next day, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Next, get out a roasting pan. Add the cut up onions and thyme sprigs to the bottom of the pan. Stuff the shallots into the duck and place it on top. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake for 1 1/2 hours.
- While the duck is roasting, make the glaze. Combine all the ingredients into a sauce pan and bring to a simmer. Simmer until half the liquid remains. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- After 1 1/2 hours, remove the aluminum foil. Brush the glaze over the duck and bake for another 30 minutes uncovered until the center is 165 degrees F. Add a new layer of glaze after 15 minutes.
- Rest duck for 5 minutes before serving.
- Rest the duck after roasting for the best results. If you don’t rest the duck before serving, all the juices will flow out once you cut into the duck, and you will get dry meat. Resting allows all the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, making for a juicier outcome. This concept actually applies to all meats.
- Use leftover drippings and aromatics for a quick sauce. I did not include this in the recipe below, but you can use the leftover stuff in the roasting pan for a simple sauce. I whipped up a quick sauce by adding some wine, lemon juice, and a little bit of sugar, and then reducing it until it thickens. It tastes soooo good drizzled over the duck.