JUST SNAPPED @littleswallowchinadoll

The year of the horse

Happy Chinese New Year folks! 'Tis the year of the horse, which I must say I'm most pleased about given our firstborn should be "energetic, bright, warm-hearted, intelligent and able". No pressure.

The longer that I'm away from home, the more I miss the traditions that I used to find so trite. The sweet box that was always on hand for when visitors popped around, mandarins in hand, containing rock hard peanut brittle, round little biscuits with sugary icing drops on top, watermelon seeds you had to crack open with your teeth for the meagre reward of a bland seed to munch on, sugary treats in the shape of lotus roots...

I'm sure I'd have one mouthful and be cured of my nostalgia, but there are some things that I do wish I had more often than once a year. After the dim sum experience we had at Pearl Liang, we decided to head back to try them out for CNY so we could ensure a year of health, wealth, and family.

We kicked off with yee sang - which we "prosperity tossed" together standing around the table. 

The higher the toss, the more prosperity comes your way, so you can imagine the enthusiasm. 

Every dish you eat at Chinese New Year has meaning. 

Rice for fertility, luck and wealth - it symbolises a link between the Gods in heaven and the men on Earth.

Lobster noodles for good marriage and unity (the lobsters) and long life (the noodles).

Whole steamed fish for prosperity, and turbot in particular for treasure.

Prawns just because everybody loves prawns. Especially when they're crispy, salty, and garlic-chilli delicious. Oh, and because the word for prawn in Chinese sounds like the word for laughter - a little sprinkling of happiness for the year. 

Black moss seaweed (nicknamed "hair vegetable") for good luck and wealth, with dried oysters for double the luck.

Abalone for definite good luck, just in case anyone was in doubt that the black moss and oysters would let them down, and shitake mushrooms to ensure you seize those opportunities.

Vegetables wrapped in beancurd, or "monk's parcel" with wood ear mushrooms for family harmony and longevity.

And a whole chicken for more prosperity, and togetherness and completeness of the family (yes, that is the head as well).

Next year we're planning on celebrating with my family for the first time in years. Not just because we'll have a little one to reap the rewards of red packets filled with money from all our married relatives of course. Although that certainly isn't a bad reason either.


  1. This is such a lovely post hun, thanks for sharing your traditions with us. I love how all the dishes have such meaning and importance. I'm planning to have a Chinese this week in honour of your new year
    x x x
    p.s. hope all is going smoothly with the little one
    {The Lobster & Me}

    1. Thanks lovely, all is going well! What did you end up having in honour of Chinese New Year? xx

    2. I was totally out of character and had sweet n sour chicken with chinese veg. Not my usual choice and I didn't really enjoy it tbh - too mainstream for me haha
      x x

  2. What a wonderful way to see in the New Year!

  3. I'm late to this party but I love this post! Thanks for expanding my mind and making me hungry, good effort!
    M x Life Outside London

  4. So many delicious looking dishes!! So many meanings! Chicken head though - I only just managed a foot! ;-)
    Fab post as always - have missed your blogs lady! Xx

    1. Not gonna lie, I was pretty damn impressed that you managed to try the foot! xx

  5. Christine all this food looks incredible!!! One of my good friends Lisa Hong, who's the BIkram yoga teacher on one of my blogposts, informed us all of the year of the horse and I'm so excited. I'd definitely welcome more prosperity and travel into my life thank you very much!
    Love your about me section by the way, "Where are you from?" lol I've always had something similar. I tell them where, then again it's, "No but where are you originally from" Then I tell them my mix and then arggghhh it gets even more complicated lol.

    Great post and blog xx

    1. A little travel and prosperity is ALWAYS welcome! May you be blessed with lots not just this year but always. Thanks for stopping by xx

  6. Mmmmmmm drooling over the photos right now