Chinese New Year

by Katie Chin, Tastemaker in Residence

The 2018 Chinese New Year begins on Friday, February 16. 2018 will be the Year of the Dog.

The Chinese zodiac moves in a 12-year cycle, and those born in 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, and 2018 are also known as Dogs.

According to the Asian astrology, your year of birth - and the animal this represents - determines a lot about your personality traits.

Although each of the twelve animals gets an outing every dozen years, there are different varieties - and 2018 will be the first Year of the Earth Dog since 1958.

Anyone born in an Earth Dog year will be communicative, serious, and responsible in the workplace.

My mother, Leeann, was my hero. A true inspiration on every level who taught me to cook, love life and cherish your family and friends. Growing up in the Midwest, she did her best to teach us traditional Chinese customs. The Chinese believe that everything you eat and everything you do on Chinese New Year will dictate how your entire year will unfold so it is a hugely significant holiday and time-honored tradition celebrating the sacredness of the family and representing a time of renewal. Food plays a major role in the celebration and every dish prepared holds auspicious meaning and is believed to directly affect one’s fortune for the coming year. For example, you must eat a whole fish as the word for fish in Chinese, “Yu,” is also the word for abundance. I’ve included my mother’s famous Steamed Fish with Black Bean Sauce recipe for you today in her memory. But first, here are a few traditional customs you can practice for your own Chinese New Year celebration to ensure good luck, happiness, prosperity and health in the coming year. All the best to you and your family in the New Year, Katie.

  • Eggrolls – symbolizing prosperity as they’re shaped like gold bars
  • Shrimp – served at celebratory occasions as the Chinese word for shrimp resembles laughter – “har”
  • Whole Fish – symbolizing abundance
  • Whole Chicken – symbolizing a favorable start and finish
  • Black Mushrooms – symbolizing prosperity because of their coin-like shape
  • Lotus Seed – signifies having many male offspring 


  • Refrain from using foul language or bad words on New Year’s Day or they will follow you throughout the year
  • Washing hair is not allowed because you will wash away your good luck for the year
  • Greeting friends with oranges or tangerines during the New Year will ensure that your friendships remain intact
  • No sweeping on New Year’s Day as you’ll sweep all your good luck out the door
  • Stepping into new shoes on New Year’s morning to start your year off on the right foot My personal favorite)
  • Distribution of Red Envelopes (signifying Joy and Luck) filled with money to start the year with prosperity

Whole Steamed Fish with Black Bean Sauce