Some recipes have been passed down for generations in the family

The Lunar New Year is a joyous occasion for reuniting with family, visiting friends, and indulging in home-made feasts together. As we look forward to the festivities next week, we ask Tatler friends what their must-have traditional dishes are, and why it's so special to them.

Carol Shieh & family

“My must-have dishes every Chinese New Year are braised pig trotters, grilled mullet roe, and traditional yam cake. In Chinese tradition, pork legs represents longevity and yielding wealth and happiness in the new year, and eating grilled mullet roe at reunion dinner symbolises fertility and abundance.

The yam cake is a recipe from my mother, and I grew up eating it. I even used yam flown in from Taiwan! After steaming, the yam cake can be eaten dipped in soy sauce, or sliced and fried—delightfully chewy, fragrant, and delicious.”

—Carol Shieh

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Jacelyn Lai & family

My two older kids have missed Chinese New Year at home for several years being away at boarding school and then university, but my eldest daughter has returned after graduating, so we’ll have three kids at home this holiday. Our family favourite is taro yam cake garnished with chilli and shallots, made with my mother’s own recipe. I’ve also made pineapple tarts this year, with fresh pineapples and less sugar. Braised pork with pickled vegetables is another dish we loved when we lived in Taipei for five years, so I’ve learned how to prepare it as well.

—Jacelyn Lai

Rebecca Eu & family

“When my grandmother was still around, she would cook her famous Shanghai-style fried nian gao (rice cakes). Every year, I always looked forward to mama’s house for this dish. So now, when my family gathers for the first day of new year and we tuck into this particular dish, I think of her. Even though it’s not quite the same, it reminds me of how she was the one who brought us together and now we have such a big loving family because of her relentless efforts to keep us close.”

—Rebecca Eu

(Related: Rebecca Eu On Finding Inner Beauty)

Jean Yip & family

“My family’s Chinese New Year traditional dishes are ‘Family Golden Treasure & Togetherness’ (shark’s fin with crab meat & roe), ‘Long Healthy Life & Happiness’ (meesua), and ‘Good Fortune & Prosperity’ (braised mushroom with dried oysters, sea cucumber, fish maw & fatt chye). The last dish means a lot to me as it is a family recipe passed down from my late grandmother to my mother and me. The mushroom is specially braised with chicken fat and stock for a smooth and flavourful texture. It’s a must-have for reunion dinners and special occasions, and it brings back memories of my late grandmother, who always brought my family close and reminded us to love one another.”

—Jean Yip

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