Need a Change of Luck? Eat Fish Soup With Red Beans for Chinese New Year

Eating fish is a must during Chinese New Year. (Image: George Parrilla/Flickr)
Eating fish is a must during Chinese New Year. (Image: George Parrilla/Flickr)

Chinese New Year is coming, and there will be a lot of paper cuttings, and one or more fish dishes on the menu.

In traditional Chinese culture, fish has a symbolic significance because the Chinese word for fish, 鱼 yú, sounds like the word for riches or abundance, 余 yú, and it is believed that eating fish will help your wishes come true in the year to come. So having a good fish soup or steamed fish is a must for most Chinese families.

In China, a fish served whole is a symbol of prosperity.

The sight of a whole fish dish with the head pointing at you at a dinner party may not be something you are used to, but in fact, at a banquet, it is customary to serve a whole fish last, pointed toward the guest of honor.

Here is a fish soup recipe for Chinese New Year that is very flavorful:


  • Red beans 2 oz
  • Carp (or other fish) 1 lb
  • Two carrots
  • Spring onion
  • Ginger 1/2 oz, salt, coriander
  • Star anise
  • Oil
  • Prickly ash or peppercorns


  1. Soak the red beans for one hour.
  2. Clean the fish.
  3. Heat the oil, and once it is hot, add the prickly ash or peppercorns until they are charred black, then scoop them out and throw away. This gives the oil a fragrant smell. Now, put the fish into the oil, and fry both sides.
  4. Add water to a pot and bring to a boil, then put the fried fish and red beans into the pot.
  5. Add the ginger, spring onion, and also a piece of star anise. After it comes to a boil, turn the heat to low and simmer till the red beans are soft.
  6. Garnish with chopped fresh coriander to taste.

Check out our Chinese New Year Festival and Party Guide for more recipes!

Recipe from Jenny Wu

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