Monday, January 27, 2014

Baby Sumo's Top 8 Chinese New Year Reunion Dinner Dishes

Are you ready for the Chinese New Year Reunion Dinner 年夜飯? For many Chinese families, this is an important occasion, as family members gather together for the annual reunion dinner. The dinner is held on CNY eve (30 Jan this year), and will be in the home of the most senior member of the paternal family. The reunion dinner will usually be a sumptuous feast and will feature auspicious dishes to ring in the new year.

Here are my Top 8 CNY Reunion Dinner dishes (8 chosen for the obvious reason, as it is considered a lucky number for the Chinese), which often graces our table during the Reunion Dinner.  Please click on the name of each dish to get the recipe if you need some last-minute inspirations.

1. Braised pork knuckle with sea cucumber

This is a popular Hokkien dish, which my grandmother prepares without fail for our reunion dinner every year. In recent years, I have started to appreciate pork knuckle more and this is a dish which is usually only eaten during Chinese New Year, hence all the more reason to cook and eat this during the festivities. Furthermore,  sea cucumber 海参 is a homonym for happiness ("hoi sum"). This tastes really fantastic with longevity noodles 寿面.

2. Baked fish with lemon and dill

During the reunion dinner, many families would traditionally serve fish as the homophone for fish (魚yú) is a homophone for "surpluses"(餘yú). It is best to serve a whole fish and it is believed that it is good to intentionally not finish the dish, to symbolise having surplus every year.

You can steam it with soy sauce and some spring onions, however we prefer to bake it in the oven with some lemon and dill, and served with a garlic-soy sauce dip.

3. Fish maw with mushrooms

Other than serving a whole fish, we also like to have fish maw, braised with mushrooms. Sometimes, my grandmother also adds in deep fried chicken feet into the stew.

4. Chinese roasted pork belly (Siew Yuk)

Another must-have dish during our reunion dinner is roasted pork belly (siew yuk). Pork symbolises strength and wealth. Try this easy 3-ingredient siew yuk this year!

5. Steamed prawns with Shaoxing wine and egg white

Prawns symbolise laughter and good fortune, as the sound of the Chinese word "har" sounds like laughter "ha ha ha". We value happiness in our family, hence prawn is another must-have during the Reunion Dinner. This is a nice simple way of cooking prawns, and preserves the natural sweetness.

6. Stir fried asparagus with scallops and king prawns

It is no secret that scallops are my favorite seafood and what luck - scallops symbolises family unity, hence giving it the green light to make an appearance at our Reunion Dinner. More prawns in this dish and we are delighted to welcome more laughter into our life. Afterall, they say "laughter is the best medicine"!

7. Stir fried leeks with sliced mushrooms

Leeks 蒜 are commonly served as the name is a homophone for "calculating (money)" (算suàn). Dried shrimps contribute an umami flavour to this dish, and the Chinese name hae mi 虾米sounds like laughter "ha ha ha". Mushrooms 冬菇 also have an auspicious meaning - longevity.

My choice of dessert after the reunion dinner are my all-time favorite CNY cookies - pineapple nastar rolls. Pineapples symbolise "prosperity". These can be made a few days in advance so on the day, just open the tin and enjoy! If you want a more traditional dessert, you can try pan fried nian gao served with grated coconut.

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*This post was featured on Asian Food Channel's Facebook page on 30 January 2014. 


  1. Love all the 8 dishes! Gong Xi Fa Cai!!!!

  2. Oooh ..... I'm looking forward to reunion dinner now !

  3. Awesome! I was just wondering what I should cook for our reunion dinner . So tempted to make the siew yuk ! LOL

  4. Slurpssss!!!! So busy, haven't given it a thought yet. Dunno what we will be having.

  5. What a fabulous selection! I'm sure everyone could find at least a few that they could cook :D I'm looking forward to Thursday's reunion dinner!

  6. Gong Xi Fa Chai! Great dishes and food for CNY.

  7. Hi Yen! Imagine having all 8 on the dining table! Which would I go for first? Number 4! Here's wishing you and your family Gong Xi Fa Cai!

  8. this would make a great 8-course meal! i think my family's chinese new year dinner will be three-course ... yee sang, poon choy and pineapple tarts, heh :D

  9. Very nice compilation! I won't be doing any reunion dinner, maybe just a simple one plate meal with Frank. Happy CNY in advance!

  10. My years just doesn't seem right without all those CNY goodies!

  11. Um... may I come to your home to celebrate CNY? :) All of these dishes look wonderful! I'll be sure to lose some weight before going, and I'll wear stretchy pants. :) You're such a great cook, Yen. Amazing spread!

  12. How I wish, these are the only food I need to prepare for CNY at my MIL's place. We have a wide variety of food for 4 days lunch/dinner for average of 30 people a day.

  13. I don't mind some leek with mushroom now.


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