Chinese New Year goes for two full weeks, from the 20th of January through February 10th. The two-week celebration, also known as the Lunar New Year, ushers in the year with parades, fireworks, and big feasts of special ‘lucky’ foods, including fish, dumplings, spring rolls, fruit, and noodles. Even without the fish, there is plenty of luck to go around for plant-based eaters.

Last year, we celebrated over vegan dim sum at Buddha Bodai Kosher, Vegan Restaurant in New York's Chinatown, and as we finished, the Parade passed right by the restaurant. This year, due to the pandemic, the celebrations look a little bit different, but you can still ring in Chinese New Year with these plant-based lucky foods that you can make, and host your own celebratory dinner.

Celebrating Chinese New Year with lucky foods | Getty Images

Part New Year, part Ground Hog Day, Chinese New Year is also called the Spring Festival because the coldest part of winter is supposed to be over.–we can only hope.

Chinese Dumplings

Symbolism: Dumplings signify wealth

While I was in Shanghai two years ago, I took a cooking class and learned how to make Chinese dumplings. The dough is easy: Just flour and water. While the rest of the class made pork dumplings, we substituted the meat with a mixture of mushrooms, cabbage, and bean sprouts to create our vegetable filling.
Although you can make the dough, it’s a bit of pain. Much simpler is buying the Nasoyoa vegan wonton wraps. Then just make the filling, form the dumplings, and steam or fry them.
Chinese Dumplings symbolize wealth | Getty Images

Vegetable Dumplings

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup chopped cabbage
  • 1/4 cup chopped mushrooms 
  • 1 tsp. grated garlic
  • 1 tsp. grated ginger
  • 1 tsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • 10 wonton wrappers
Dipping sauce 
  • 2 tablespoons Soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon chopped scallions

Instructions

1. Mix everything but the wrappers together and cook over high heat for 2-3 minutes, until mushrooms brown a little. Remove from heat, put back in the bowl, and wipe out the skillet.
2. When the mixture has cooled, take a wonton wrapper and put a spoonful of filling in the center. Wet the perimeter of the wrapper, fold over and seal tightly. Continue until all the filling is used.

3. Add a tablespoon of canola oil to the skillet and heat. Cook dumplings 2-3 minutes per side, until golden. 

4. Serve with dipping sauce.

Vegan Spring Rolls
Symbolism: Spring rolls also signify wealth.

These vegan spring rolls are made with square pieces of thin dough that are filled with vegetables, rolled into a cylinder, and fried.

Vegan Spring Rolls

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 4 cups napa cabbage sliced thinly
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 carrots sliced thinly
  • 4 ounces bamboo shoots sliced thinly
  • 1 cup cooked glass noodles
  • Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 12 spring roll wrappers
  • canola oil for frying

Instructions

1. Add the canola oil to a large heavy skillet on medium-high heat and add in the napa cabbage cooking 8-10 minutes while stirring until almost all the liquid it releases has cooked off.
2. Add in the garlic, carrots, and bamboo shoots and cook for 1 minute. Stir in noodles, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sesame oil and stir again. Let filling cool completely.
Mix cornstarch with two tablespoons of water.
3. Lay out the spring roll wrapper, brush cornstarch mixture around the edges to moisten, and add about 2 tablespoons of filling in a long rectangle shape, folding in from the sides and rolling the wrappers closed tightly. Heat oil in a wok and fry the spring rolls until golden brown.

Cold noodles with peanut sauce
Symbolism: Cold Noodles connote longevity.

This is why you don’t cut noodles; the long noodles are supposed to lead to a long life.

Cold Peanut Noodles

Ingredients

  • 1/2  cup natural creamy peanut butter
  • tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2  Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger
  • 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • juice of half a lime
  • 4-6 drops Sriracha sauce
  • 1  cup frozen shelled edamame
  • 1  cup snow peas, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup cucumber, sliced into matchsticks
  • 1/2 pound firm tofu, pressed under a weight or book, then cut into chunks (when the kids were little, I cut tofu into rectangular LEGO sized pieces)
  • 1/4  cup chopped salted roasted peanuts
  • 1-2 chopped scallions, greens and white part
  • 12 ounces noodles, cooked to stiffness and cooled

Instructions

  1. To make the sauce, combine all the ingredients in a blender and puree.
  2. In a large bowl, add half the sauce, then all the noodles, and stir to coat. Add the rest of the veggies and tofu and the rest of the sauce. Top with peanuts and scallions.

Good Fortune Fruit.
Symbolism: These connote fullness and wealth.

Chop or cube into pieces pineapple, oranges, melon, tangerines, or any other fruit that has a golden, yellow, or orange color. The mixed fruit should look like little pieces of gold to signify wealth.