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6 things you might not know about your favourite Chinese New Year dishes

Why you should eat dumplings and pineapple tarts for more huat

Time Out Singapore in partnership with foodpanda
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It’s soon Chinese New Year, and that means reunion dinners and endless snacking on our festive favourites. We devour every last bit of yusheng or continue popping buttery pineapple tarts in our mouths – but without really knowing why. From eating jiao zi (dumplings) to gifting our loved ones sliced bak kwa, here are six fun facts you might not know about our favourite Chinese New Year dishes. 

Read on to see how to score special Chinese New Year promos, free delivery, and tapau promotions. 

RECOMMENDED: The ultimate guide to Chinese New Year in Singapore

Lucky Chinese New Year foods

1. Indulge in pineapple tarts for good fortune
Photograph: Shutterstock/Nova 171717

1. Indulge in pineapple tarts for good fortune

Every Chinese New Year comes with an overload of pineapple tarts. Understandably so, since the direct Hokkien translation of pineapple sounds just like the idea of “ushering in prosperity”. Fruits are also generally considered auspicious, and for the Hokkiens, the pineapple reigns as one of the luckiest fruits to have during the new year. 

While inherently Chinese, our rendition of pineapple tarts were inspired by the Straits Chinese or Peranakan folks: we won’t find these buttery bites in China. Now, when out visiting friends and family, don’t say no to another pineapple tart. Since we believe that eating sweet treats will lead to a sweeter life, it's only during the lunar celebrations that we get a free pass for devouring all things sweet.

2. Avoid polishing off the fish for a more abundant new year
Photograph: foodpanda

2. Avoid polishing off the fish for a more abundant new year

Chinese New Year is all about prosperity, abundance, and really, just having an overwhelming load of luck. Since the word “fish” in Chinese sounds just like “abundance”, a whole fish is one of the luckiest dishes at your reunion dinner. It also comes served entirely whole, with the head and tail included, as this represents the togetherness of a family. But as delicious as having an entire fish is, make sure to leave at least some scraps for a truly abundant year – it symbolises that you’ll have more than you ever need.

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Photograph: Tanyu

If you like, you can even order two whole fish dishes. For a change from the traditional steamed fish, order from specialty fish restaurant Tanyu for tasty grilled fish. Here, fish is served whole (from $51.90) with flavours like green pepper, garlic, and spicy. You can also choose to add on other traditionally lucky ingredients like bamboo shoots and black fungus to this grilled whole fish platter.

Order from Tanyu and get free delivery with foodpanda’s subscription programme, pandapro.

3. Enjoy bak kwa for better luck
Photograph: Shutterstock/Chow Mun Kin

3. Enjoy bak kwa for better luck

Meat was once considered a luxury food, one that we’d only splurge on during festive celebrations like Chinese New Year. The tradition of gifting each other beautifully-packed boxes of bak kwa for good luck has since continued. It’s also the auspicious deep red hues of bak kwa that make these charcoal-grilled strips of meat one of Singapore’s most desired new year treats.

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4. Exchange mandarin oranges for better fortune and luck
Photograph: Shutterstock/ThamKC

4. Exchange mandarin oranges for better fortune and luck

Mandarin oranges are all round lucky. They’re not only a vibrant orange (an auspicious colour), but they’re also round in shape – symbolising good luck and fortune. When exchanging mandarins, always present them in pairs with both hands. You can also conveniently order mandarin oranges through pandamart, foodpanda’s 24/7 grocery delivery service that delivers within the hour. Tip: As a pandapro subscriber, you can also get free delivery on all pandamart orders with a minimum spend of just $29.

Order from pandamart with a pandapro subscription for free delivery (minimum spend of $29).

5. Toss a yusheng to “greater heights” for prosperity
Photograph: Shutterstock/Alexlky

5. Toss a yusheng to “greater heights” for prosperity

We can guarantee this: all reunion meals during Chinese New Year will start with yusheng, a huge platter filled with shredded veggies, fresh sashimi, and sauces. All ingredients symbolise good fortune. More often than not, someone will also take the lead in reciting auspicious phrases like “nian nian you yu” (may your year be filled with abundance). 

While this good luck tradition has been instilled in us since we were kids, most of us just simply enjoyed seeing how high we could toss the yusheng together. For once, we wouldn’t get rebuked by our parents for making a mess. As it goes, the higher you toss the yusheng, the better our luck will be – we’ll figuratively be reaching greater heights. 

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6. Eat more dumplings to get more money
Photograph: Shutterstock/joojoob27

6. Eat more dumplings to get more money

This is one of our favourite Chinese New Year traditions to adhere to: chowing down dumpling after dumpling to up our wealth for the new year. Rather than xiao long baos or wontons though, these dumplings have to specifically be jiao zi. These ingot-shaped dumplings, which are also known as shui jiao, are a symbol of wealth. Since jiao zi symbolise the turn of the year, these dumplings should also be served on Chinese New Year Eve to maximise your prosperity. 

Photograph: foodpanda

Instead of spending the entire day folding these dumplings from scratch, simply order from Chinese restaurant Honguo via foodpanda. The jiao zi ($12.20 for six) have a generous pork filling, and come with a soy-ginger dipping sauce on the side. You can also head down to eat at one of Honguo’s outlets from now to January 20 to make the most of pandapro’s dine-in perk where you’ll get 15 percent off the entire bill as a pandapro subscriber. With every dine-in redemption, you’ll also get free Pau-Pau red packets and playing cards.

Get 15 percent off the total bill and score free red packets and playing cards when you dine-in at Honguo and Bali Thai as a pandapro subscriber.

Enjoy Chinese New Year with foodpanda

Photograph: foodpanda

From yusheng to pineapple tarts, we can’t imagine Chinese New Year without these staples. With foodpanda’s subscription programme pandapro, it’s now easier than ever to enjoy your favourite reunion dinner dishes and snacks. 

Free delivery on thousands of restaurants and groceries on pandamart, 10 percent off tapau orders via pick-up, and 20 percent off and more when you dine-in – this range of members-only benefits will save you over $300 a month.

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