My suggestions for what to cook this weekend for Lunar New Year and Chinese New Year include recipes for lucky food, for everything from dumplings and fried spring rolls to longevity noodles, leafy greens, and pork belly. Tomorrow is Lunar New Year’s Eve and Chinese New Year’s Eve, when the New Year celebrations start with reunion dinners and culminate with the lantern festival.
Cambodia must be one of the most inclusive places we’ve ever lived and Cambodians some of the most tolerant people we’ve known. Not only can residents of all cultures, expats and foreign tourists observe their own holidays and festivals, but Cambodians, who love nothing more than enjoying their time with loved-ones, also love to join in on the celebrations.
Which means as expats we get to celebrate three New Year holidays – the international New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day on the 31st December and 1st January; Cambodia’s Khmer New Year in April, and Lunar New Year or Chinese New Year this weekend – and Cambodians embrace all enthusiastically.
Of course, Cambodia has a sizeable Chinese-Cambodian community in addition to Chinese expatriates who will be celebrating Chinese New Year, and expats from Asian countries who will celebrate Lunar New Year, with their own rituals and traditions, some shared, some quite distinct from the others. You can read more here about Lunar New Year and Chinese New Year.
My suggestions for what to cook this weekend for Lunar New Year and Chinese New Year is not exhaustive and nor is it a menu as such – those who traditionally celebrate will have had their menu worked out days if not weeks ago – this is for those who don’t, who might want to get a taste of the celebrations, as we do here.
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What to Cook This Weekend for Lunar New Year and Chinese New Year
Instead of our usual What to Cook this Weekend format with suggestions for meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner for Saturday and Sunday, we decided to simply share a selection of six dishes that you could cook at any time, whether in place of normal meals or as part of a Lunar New Year’s Eve or Chinese New Year’s Eve feast.
What to Cook This Weekend – Lucky Dishes for Lunar New Year and Chinese New Year
Fried Spring Rolls Recipe for Crispy Deep-Fried Egg Rolls
These fried spring rolls top my list of suggestions for what to cook this weekend for Lunar New Year and Chinese New Year. Although eaten year-round nowadays, historically spring rolls were eaten for Chinese New Year and the Spring festival that followed.
While the origin of the spring roll is Chinese, and in Cambodia specifically its provenance is the Chinese-Cambodian community, these fried spring rolls are cooked and eaten by everyone in Cambodia these days.
This classic Cambodian fried spring rolls recipe makes a crunchy deep-fried spring roll filled with minced pork, dried shrimp, carrot, garlic, and daikon radish or taro, seasoned with fish sauce, Kampot pepper, sea salt, and palm sugar.
Fillings vary from region to region in China but the pork mince-based mixture is nearly always marinated and the marinade typically includes any combination of oyster sauce (we like Lee Kum Kee Premium Oyster Sauce), soy sauces (we like to use these light and dark soy sauce brands), sesame oil, and perhaps Shaoxing cooking wine.
Chive and Pork Dumplings Recipe for the Cambodian-Chinese Jiaozi
Next on my list of suggestions for what to cook this weekend for Lunar New Year and Chinese New Year are dumplings. Who doesn’t love dumplings?! Dumplings are a lucky food for Lunar New Year and my Chinese-Cambodian friends tell me that Chinese New Year would not be complete without dumplings on the table for every Spring festival meal.
Families will often sit and make them together before New Year’s Eve and make enough to cover all holiday meals. This easy chive and pork dumplings recipe makes one of the most popular dumplings here in Cambodia. They’re essentially the Cambodian-Chinese version of jiaozi, the delicious dumplings found right across China.
In Cambodia, they’re often more rustic – no fancy pleating needed – and packed with chives and a little ground pork mince. We love dipping them in Sichuan-style chilli oil or a do-it-yourself sauce of chilli, soy and vinegar.
Longevity Noodles Recipe for Long Life, Good Luck and Prosperity
A list of suggestions for what to cook this weekend for Lunar New Year and Chinese New Year has to include my favourite Lunar New Year and Chinese New Year recipe, which makes longevity noodles or long life noodles. It’s a traditional Chinese noodle dish made during Chinese New Year or Lunar New Year to bring longevity, good luck and prosperity – as long as you don’t cut the noodles!
This is a super easy recipe, just take care not to break the noodles when you’re boiling them, stir-frying them or eating them, because if you do you’ll get bad luck! We buy a Singapore brand of longevity noodles here in Siem Reap produced by Hup Huat Noodles, to a recipe dating to 1930.
This brand of longevity noodles isn’t available on Amazon, but I’m sure you’ll find them or a similar noodle in an Asian market, specialty Asian grocer or a supermarket with well-stocked Asian sections. Ask for yi mein, yi mian, yee mein, yee fu or e-fu noodles. Good luck!
Chinese Special Fried Rice Recipe
This Chinese special fried dish is also called Yangzhou fried rice, because its provenance is the city of Yangzhou in Jiangsu province in China, which was one of the culinary hotbeds of Huaiyang cuisine, and it’s a another one of my top suggestions for what to cook this weekend for Lunar New Year and Chinese New Year.
The traditional version of this Chinese special fried rice dish includes cooked rice, char siu pork, shrimps, scallions, ‘scrambled’ eggs, peas, and carrots. Sea cucumber and crab meat are other additions. Some recipes use lap cheong (or lap chong) instead of char siu pork.
Growing up in Australia, this special fried rice was served at every suburban Chinese restaurant in Australia, not to mention at those old-school Cantonese restaurants that were in every suburb and town, so it has a special place in the hearts of nostalgic Australians, especially during Chinese holidays.
Vietnamese Braised Pork Belly and Eggs Recipe for Thit Kho Tau
This Vietnamese braised pork belly and eggs recipe makes thịt kho tàu, also called thịt kho hột vịt, a rich dish of sweet and salty, melt-in-the-mouth, caramelised pork belly simmered slowly with boiled eggs.
While it’s eaten all year in Vietnam, it’s a traditional dish for Tết, the Vietnamese Lunar New Year and another of recommendations for what to cook this weekend for Lunar New Year and Chinese New Year.
It has long been one of our favourite Vietnamese dishes and while we used to eat it whenever we had the opportunity when we lived in Vietnam, it started out in life as an essential dish on family tables during Lunar New Year holiday of Tết.
This particular version of this caramelised pork belly and eggs dish has its provenance in Southern Vietnam, as the inclusion of fish sauce, coconut water and palm sugar give away, however, there is a similar dish that hails from Northern Vietnam, and you’ll also find similar braised pork and boiled eggs dishes all over Southeast Asia and China.
Slow-Cooked Pork Recipe With Ginger and Star Anise
Here in Cambodia, families who can afford to will buy a whole roasted piglet for Chinese New Year. Those who can’t will ensure there’s pork on the table for every Chinese New Year meal. This slow-cooked pork stew recipe makes an impressive and incredibly delicious dish.
While it takes some patience to make, it will fill your kitchen with the amazing aromas of pork, star anise and ginger. Served with fried spring rolls, dumplings, noodles, and stir-fried Asian greens, this Cambodian pork leg stew can be the centrepiece of a Lunar New Year feast.
One of the keys to making this slow-cooked pork stew recipe is that you need to find a good pork leg with plenty of meat to fat ratio. You do not want to go to the trouble of making this dish to find that 80% of your pork is actually fat – delicious as it is. Terence uses his Dutch Oven to make the dish.
Do let us know if you make any of our suggestions for what to cook this weekend for Lunar New Year and Chinese New Year as we love to hear how our recipes turn out for you.