Get the latest from TODAY
Lunar New Year — a.k.a. Chinese New Year — is celebrated on February 19, kicking off the Year of the Sheep. And that means it's time to eat some lucky foods, such as the dumplings, noodles and whole fish that Joanne Chang, chef-owner of Boston's Flour Bakery, is sharing recipes for here.
Dumplings are a popular Chinese New Year dish because they represent prosperity. "The shape of the dumplings resembles a gold ingot, an old form of currency in China, so making and eating them is good luck because it will bring wealth into the new year," Chang explains. "It's also a family activity to sit around the kitchen table and make dumplings and the importance of family is really stressed at the new year." Whole fish is another popular dish that symbolizes abundance. "The word for fish, 'yu,' has the same sound as the word for surplus so it's great luck to eat fish and allow for surplus to enter into your life with the new year," says Chang.
Want a long life to enjoy all that wealth? Make a dish of long noodles such as Chang's longevity noodles, but be sure not to break them. "Leave them long to imply long life," says the chef.
Nian Gao (Sticky Rice Cake)
Wondering about the delicious looking cake in the segment? It's a traditional sticky rice cake called nian gao that is steamed and served warm. "Sticky rice cake was something my mom would buy in Chinatown each New Year and most people do this as well — if people go to a bakery in Chinatown or in any Asian grocery store they will be able to find these," says Chang. (The cake in the segment was purchased in New York's Chinatown.) The cakes can also be purchased online.
This article was originally published Feb. 19, 2015 at 8:46 a.m. ET.