China's biggest festival is just around the corner, and that can only mean good things for foodies! Here are our top Spring Festival treats and where to try them in the UK capital.
1. Jiaozi dumplings
One of China’s many kinds of delicious dumplings, jiaozi are a Spring Festival staple in northern China. Legend has it that the more dumplings you eat during New Year celebrations, the more money you can make that lunar year.
Many families prepare them at home with their favourite fillings, whether it’s pork, shrimp, egg or fresh veggies - then serve them boiled or steamed on the eve of Chinese New Year. Try pretty much any kind at Dumplings Legend, 15-16 Gerrard St, Chinatown London W1D 6JE or the Minced Chive and Prawn Jiaozi at Feng Shui Inn, 6 Gerrard St, Chinatown London, W1D 5PG
2. Whole Fish
A lucky pun is the reason behind this typical New Year dish. The word for fish in Mandarin is yu, which has the same pronunciation as the word for plenty or abundance, so it’s considered lucky by many people. Pretty much every table will have a fish dish on the menu at Chinese New Year – cooked on the bone, most likely grilled or steamed.
How the fish is eaten matters a lot: to preserve its luck, the fish should be the last dish left on the table at the end of the meal and the head should be placed toward distinguished guests or elders to show respect. And whatever you do, don’t turn the fish over – as that’s said to reverse its New Year luck! For a family feast, order the whole Steamed Dover Sole with Ginger & Spring Onions at Lotus Garden, 15A Gerrard St, Chinatown London.
A typical sweet treat at Chinese New Year, tangyuan is a Chinese dessert made from glutinous rice flour mixed with a small amount of water to form brightly coloured balls and then cooked and served in boiling water or sweet syrup (sweet ginger syrup, for example).
Tangyuan can be either small or large, and filled or unfilled. They can take on many fillings – sugar, sesame, sweet red bean paste, yam and more modern additions like fruit and chocolate. The pronunciation and round shape of tangyuan are associated with reunion and being together. Try the Sweet Soup Dumplings at The Shan State, Shaftesbury Avenue, Chinatown London W1D 5EF.
What better food to symbolise a long and healthy life than, well, long and healthy noodles? Served much longer than usual, New Year noodles are typically made from strong wheat flour, which makes them less likely to break. Served up in a soup or stir-fried with meat or vegetables and flavoured with sesame and ginger, they’re the perfect meal to slurp on a cold winter’s day. Try the Beef Brisket Noodle Soup at Orient London, 15 Wardour St, Chinatown London, W1D 6PH.
5. Spring Rolls
Some people consider it lucky to eat gold-coloured foods for prosperity around this time of year, and these golden rectangular parcels are no exception. Try them at Battersea’s very own Vietnamese restaurant Mien Tay, 180 Lavender Hill, SW11 5TQ.
Feeling really extra this February? Then here’s the perfect festive dish for you. Lobsters have become a popular item for New Year’s Eve family dinners because they turn a lucky red when cooked. And in China, where lobsters are imported and more expensive than local seafood, they serve as a status symbol. Try the Lobster baked with ginger and spring onions, or deep-fried with salt and pepper at Four Seasons, 12 Gerrard St, Chinatown London W1D 5PR.
Happy eating! For more fun stuff going on this month, check out our what's on guide for Chinese New Year in London - coming soon!
News | February 09,2018