AAPI Chefs Share Recipes For Their Favorite Lunar New Year Dishes
Learn how to make Madame Vo’s Pandan Sticky Rice and more.
On Sunday, Jan. 22, the first day of Lunar New Year will kick off the Year of the Rabbit. Traditionally aligning with the first new moon of the lunar calendar, Lunar New Year is the perfect time to spend time with loved ones who also celebrate and, of course, feast on some delicious traditional food. If you want to switch things up from your family’s go-to recipe or you’re looking to try a brand new dish from one of the many different countries that celebrate this holiday, these Lunar New Year recipes from acclaimed Asian American chefs and business owners in the food and hospitality industries will definitely have everyone asking for seconds.
With festivities running through Feb. 5 this year, you have plenty of opportunities to try to whip up different Lunar New Year dishes in the kitchen. The holiday is celebrated in many different Asian countries — China, Vietnam, South Korea, Japan, Thailand, Singapore, the Philippines, and Malaysia are just a few examples — so there are numerous options for dishes that you can make based on the type of cuisine you’re looking for.
Because TikTok and YouTube are saturated with tutorials, Elite Daily tapped four different Asian American chefs and business owners to share authentic recipes for their favorite Lunar New Year dishes. From Chef Jimmy Ly and Yen Vo of New York City’s Madame Vo to Chef Duyen Ha of BONDLE wines, these recipes include Vietnamese and Chinese New Year main dishes, desserts, and more.
Crystal Ung, Bowlcut
Crystal Ung, who taps family recipes for her Bowlcut company’s flavorful sauces, also takes cues from her family when it comes to Lunar New Year. Her family makes a version of her dad’s recipe for Lunar New Year Chinese Steamed Fish every year, and she says the “elegantly simple dish” represents abundance and prosperity — a fitting start to the Lunar New Year. Pro tip: drizzle some Bowlcut chili crisp on the top for an extra burst of flavor
Lunar New Year Chinese Steamed Fish Recipe
Ingredients (4 servings):
- 3-4 fillets of sea bass, approximately 1.5lbs
- 3 tablespoons of fresh ginger, julienned
- 2 pieces of fresh ginger
- 6-8 scallions – green and white parts separated, julienned
- 1-2 scallions – green parts cut in 1.5” pieces
- Cilantro – roughly chop 10 sprigs
- ¼ cup oil of choice
- ¼ cup light soy sauce
- White pepper, to taste
- ¼ teaspoon sugar
- Place the fish on a plate with two large pieces of ginger and green parts 1.5” scallions on the top. Steam for 8-10 minutes or until the fish is cooked through.
- After steaming, discard ginger and scallions and pour out the excess liquid.
- Add half of the julienne ginger and green parts of the scallions on top of the fish.
- Mix water, sugar, light soy sauce, and white pepper and set aside.
- Heat oil on high and add ginger and white parts of the scallion until it sizzles.
- Pour the hot oil over the steamed fish.
- Pour the soy sauce mixture on top.
- Serve and enjoy immediately.
Zoey Xinyi Gong, Five Seasons TCM
Chef Gong, whose Five Seasons TCM brand is a wellness company with an emphasis Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), calls her Lantern Shrimp with Yam Salad recipe “almost like a Chinese New Year version of a shrimp cocktail.”
“Instead of cocktail sauce, I make a sunchoke-yam-veggie mash to accompany the shrimp,” she says, adding that root vegetables are also great ingredients for TCM due to their health benefits.
“Paired with shellfish, which we traditionally eat for Lunar New Year . . . this dish is a gentle, satisfying crowd-pleaser,” she says.
Lantern Shrimp With Yam Salad Recipe
Ingredients (4 Servings, 2 Lanterns)
- 1 medium sweet potato or pumpkin
- 3-5 small sunchokes (optional)
- 15 jumbo shrimps, deveined and clean
- 1/2 cup of frozen mixed vegetables (corn, green bean, carrot)
- Carrot and red bell pepper, for decoration
- White sesame to garnish
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Sea salt and black pepper
- In a pan, sear shrimp till it’s cooked through and no longer opaque. Make some horizontal slits on the inner side of the shrimp so that it is not too curled up to form the lantern shape we desire.
- Roast the sunchokes and yams in the oven at 425 F until soft (about 25-30mins). I recommend putting them in tin foil, covering with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Once done, mash.
- In a pan, saute the mixed vegetables until they are cooked. Add mashed yams and sunchokes, mix well, and then season.
- Cut two rectangular strips of red bell pepper, one long, one short.
- Cut a dozen really thin and long carrot strips.
- On a plate, shape 3/4 cup of yam mixture into the body of the lantern. Lay 7-8 shrimp over the mash, one after another. Put the shorter bell pepper strip on top and the longer one at the bottom of the lantern. Place one carrot strip on top as the hanging string loop of the lantern, and the rest in the bottom as the tassels.
- Sprinkle some white sesame seeds on top, then serve chilled or warm.
Vince Nguyen, Nam Coffee
Vince Nguyen, whose NAM Coffee company brings the bold flavors of Vietnamese coffee to U.S. consumers, says candied coconut make him nostalgic.
“Yummy, healthy, and beautiful, candied coconut ribbons are an essential part of Tết,” he says. To color a traditional Khay Mut Tet (Tet Candied Tray), you can use beet extract for pink, turmeric powder for yellow, pandan extract or green tea for green, the coconut in its natural form for white, and a coffee shot for a golden brown hue.
Vietnamese Five-Color Coconut Candied Strip & Ribbons Recipe (Mứt Dừa Ngũ Sắc)
Ingredients (4 servings):
- 500 g coconut flesh - coconut meat (cans or fresh)
- 200 g white sugar
- 1 tsp matcha
- 1 tsp beet extract
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 coffee shot
- 2 tbsp sweetened condensed milk
- Thinly shave some coconut flesh into ribbons. Rinse several times until the water is clear. Leave to drain.
- Combine the coconut ribbons with sugar and leave to marinate for 4-6 hours, until the sugar dissolves completely.
- Put the sugar syrup into a large wok, then bring to a boil. Lower the heat to cook until the water reduces and the syrup slightly thickens. Then, add the coconut and condensed milk.
- Simmer and stir continuously over low heat.
- When the syrup thickens, divide the mixture into 2 pans. In 1 pan, sift the color extracts and stir well over low heat until the sugar is about to crystallize. Then, turn off the heat, but keep stirring continuously to make the sugar crystallizes into tiny grains
- Let the candied coconut ribbons cool until they’re completely dry. Transfer the cooled ribbons to an airtight container and discard the powdery sugar residue.
Chef Jimmy Ly And Yen Vo of Madame Vo
You might know husband and wife duo Chef Jimmy Ly and Yen Vo due to New York’s Madame Vo Hospitality Group as well as the popular East Village namesake restaurant that serves up Vietnamese food.
Chef Ly says Pandan Sticky Rice resonates with him because it is very personal to his family's Lunar New Year Tradition. Plus, eating the dish is a good way to manifest more wealth in the new year.
He adds, “Pandan Sticky Rice is green, which is known to symbolize luck and money. It's also deliciously sweet, so the fact that it will bring us good fortune and prosperity in the new year is just the icing on the cake.
Pandan Sticky Rice Recipe (Xoi La Đua)
- 1 can coconut milk
- 2 bowls of glutinous rice (green color)
- Pandan leaves or pandan extract
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 fresh coconut
- Chopped roasted peanuts
- Toasted sesame
- Wash the pandan leaves then slice them into small pieces. Add then to a blender to puree the leaves with cold water. Next, filter the puree to separate the leaf residue from the pandan juice.
- Mix the pandan juice with 1 liter of cold water and 1 can of coconut milk. Soak the glutinous rice with the mixture. Add 1 teaspoon of salt into the mixture and leave out overnight at room temperature.
- The next day, take the rice out of the water and wait for it to dry (2-3 hrs). Next, steam the glutinous rice for 1 hour, then mix it up with a ladle and add sugar to the rice (depending on taste, add less or more based on preference of sweetness).
- After rice is fully cooked from steaming, mince the grated coconut meat from the fresh coconut. Crush toasted peanuts and toasted sesame and set aside along with the coconut for toppings.
- Serve and top each bowl/plate with coconut, peanuts, sesame seeds and a drizzle of sugar.
Chef/Owner Duyen Ha, BONDLE Wines
Chef Ha, who’s worked at Brooklyn’s Marlow & Sons and the 3 Michelin-star Arpège in Paris, is also the owner of BONDLE Wines. The company offers a curated selection of French natural wines that rotate seasonally.
Ha says a childhood favorite, braised pork and egg, reminds her of her Vietnamese roots.
"Braised pork and egg is a childhood favorite for many Southeast Asians. It’s nostalgic, reminiscent of family meals and grandmothers, and completely satisfying,” she says. “My version substitutes pork belly with spare ribs for a healthier but still unctuous and flavor-rich dish."
Thit Kho Trung (Vietnamese Caramelized Pork with Eggs)
- 10 cloves, garlic, minced
- 3 shallots, brunoise
- 6 eggs
- 3 tablespoons, Nước Màu Caramel Sauce
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 pounds, spare ribs
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 can, coconut water with pulp
- Nước Màu Caramel Sauce
- 1⁄4 cup sugar
- 1⁄4 cup water
- In a small saucepan, add sugar and set the burner to medium high. Swirl the pan to evenly melt the sugar, but do not stir. Cook until the sugar deepens to an amber/black color.
- Once it’s at the desired color, turn off the heat and add two tablespoons of water. Be careful as the mixture might splatter. Add the rest of the water to thin out the caramel and set it aside in a jar to cool.
- Go to a local butcher that can cut the pork into one inch segments. At home, rinse off the meat and add it in a bowl with half of the garlic, half of the shallots, sugar, salt, fish sauce, black pepper, and 1 tablespoon of the caramel sauce. Set aside for 30 minutes.
- Boil a small pot of water. Once the water is boiling, add in the eggs and boil for 5 minutes. Strain the water and place the eggs in cold water. Peel the eggs and use a fork to poke tiny holes. This will help the eggs absorb the sauce. Set aside.
- Heat up a heavy bottom pot and add the olive oil. On medium high heat, add the remaining shallots and garlic and saute until fragrant and lightly brown. Add in the marinated pork and two tablespoons of the caramel sauce. Cook for 5 minutes and then add the coconut water. Add water until the pork is submerged by half an inch. Reduce the heat to medium and skim off the excess fat that floats to the top. Add the eggs.
- Remove the eggs after 15 minutes if you want the yolk to be runny. Cook the pork for an hour to 90 minutes. Flip the eggs and pork periodically. The sauce should be reduced by half and thickened. Re-season the sauce if needed. Add the eggs back in.
- Serve the pork and eggs with rice and a side of sliced cucumbers for freshness.
Catherine Diao, Null Wines
Catherine Diao, who co-founded Null Wines with Dorothy Munholland in 2021, says her favorite Lunar New Year dish goes back to memories with her dad. The owner of the premium non-alcoholic wine label says, “One of my favorite parts of celebrating the Lunar New Year is dumpling-making— I have a lot of fond memories doing this over the years with my dad.”
“Nowadays when I’m hosting, I like to put friends to work making these highly addictive vegetable dumplings from The Woks of Life blog. They’re always a hit."
The Woks Of Life Vegetable Dumpling Recipe
For the wrappers:
- 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 cup tepid water (plus 2 tablespoons)
For the filling:
- 3 tablespoons oil (plus ¼ cup)
- 1 tablespoon ginger (minced)
- 1 large onion (chopped)
- 2 cups shiitake mushrooms (chopped)
- 1 1/2 cups cabbage (finely shredded)
- 1 1/2 cups carrot (finely shredded)
- 1 cup garlic chives (Chinese chives, finely chopped)
- 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 3 tablespoons Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry)
- 2 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- Salt (to taste)
- Make the dough for the dumpling wrappers by putting the flower in a mixing bowl, gradually adding water, and kneading it into a dough. Cover with a damp towel and let it rest for an hour.
- Next, in a skillet over medium high heat, cook ginger in 3 tablespoons of oil for 30 seconds. Add the onions and stir fry them, then add the chopped mushrooms and cook for about 3-5 minutes.
- Next, add and stir fry the cabbage and carrots for another 2 minutes. Once all the vegetables are cooked and all residual liquid is gone, transfer everything to a bowl to cool.
- Once the mixture has cooled, add the chives, white pepper, sesame oil, shaoxing wine, soy sauce, and sugar. Stir in the last ¼ cup of oil and season with salt to taste.
- To put together your dumplings, cut the dumpling dough into tablespoon-sized chunks then roll each of them out into a circle. Pleat your dumplings, and fill them with the veggie mixture.
- You can either pan-fry or steam your dumplings depending on your preference.
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