The ultimate Chinese New Year menu

4 simple recipes to cook for Chinese New Year

by Great British Chefs 20 January 2020

Planning a big Chinese New Year feast? We’ve picked out four delicious dishes that are guaranteed to bring you good fortune and impress your dinner guests into the bargain.

Great British Chefs is a team of passionate food lovers dedicated to bringing you the latest food stories, news and reviews.

Great British Chefs is a team of passionate food lovers dedicated to bringing you the latest food stories, news and reviews.

Chinese New Year is a fantastic time to get stuck into some Chinese cooking. A lot of us can still be a bit intimidated by Chinese cuisine, but it isn’t as hard as you might think – there are loads of delicious recipes that can easily be created in the comfort of your own kitchen. The key is to get everything chopped and prepped before you even go near the stove – especially when stir-frying, which can take no longer than a few minutes.

Certain dishes have particular symbolism when served at Chinese New Year. Rice cakes, for example, are often eaten as a celebration of the rice harvest which happens right at the beginning of spring. Dumplings and spring rolls symbolise wealth, and eating fruit encourages good fortune. There are lots of customs surrounding fish at Chinese New Year too – the serving of whole fish symbolises unity and you should always leave leftovers as this portends that you will start and finish the year with a surplus of food. It’s also said that the fish shouldn’t be moved during the meal and those facing the head and tail of the fish should drink together!

Whether you’re just looking for an excuse to get to grips with Chinese cooking and eat some delicious food or want to welcome in the Year of The Rat in style, here are four fantastic Chinese recipes for a New Year’s feast that are a little different from what you'd normally find, but easy to put together.

Wok-seared venison with black pepper and oyster sauce

This speedy venison stir-fry can be thrown together in a pinch and makes a fantastic weeknight dinner as well as something special for Chinese New Year. The key is in the marinade – the richness of the venison marries with the punch of oyster sauce, light soy sauce and Shaoxing wine, infusing the entire dish with umami. Remember to always let your wok come to maximum temperature to achieve a proper sear on all your ingredients – if the heat is too low they will release their moisture and begin to boil instead.

Hakka stuffed tofu

The Hakka people live in the Hakka-speaking areas of China, chiefly around Guangdong and southeast China. They’re known for a particularly umami-rich and aromatic style of cooking and this recipe is typical of Hakka cuisine – cubes of pressed tofu are hollowed out and stuffed with minced pork and prawns. It's a little like a tofu-based wonton! Once you’ve prepped the stuffed tofu, it just needs ten minutes in the steamer and it’s ready to eat.

Dong bo ro (Dark soy-braised pork belly)

Braised pork belly is something we all gravitate towards when we’re eating Chinese – that rich, gelatinous sauce and the yielding wobble of slow-braised pork are irresistible. This is a remarkably simple recipe that just requires time and a steady temperature – Jeremy Pang uses fermented red tofu to form a robust base for the braising stock, before he sears off large cubes of pork belly, adds aromatics, then a flavourful braising stock. Let it tick over for two or three hours and then cook down the sauce for an extra intensity of flavour.

Aubergine, green chilli and fish claypot

Aubergine and chilli is a much-loved flavour combination in China and this claypot really amps things up, using plenty of chilli bean paste and oyster sauce to take things to the next level. Marinating and searing the fish brings another element to the dish before everything goes into a claypot to cook together, and the result is a knockout. If you don’t have a claypot, don’t fret – you can use a cast-iron pot or any pan that's heavy and holds heat well.