Chinese New Year starts on Thursday and cooks will head for the traditional recipes that have brought their families together for centuries - and have hopefully acted like lucky charms.
Dishes are heavy with symbolism - but as the Year of the Rabbit dawns, Sheffield’s artisan ice cream-maker Yee Kwan is putting her own spin on her family feast.
Yee is leaving all the savoury dishes to mother-in-law Wai Ling Chan - who is, after all, wife of one of the city’s first Chinese restaurateurs, John Chan of the Golden Dragon on Matilda Street - but Yee is dishing up her Oriental-flavoured ices as dessert.
Wai Ling will be serving nine dishes, including a noodle chow mein - noodles represent a long life, so the longer they are the better - and whole fish to bring her family abundance.
“Lucky” foods are served through the two-week celebration. A whole chicken symbolises family togetherness and clams and spring rolls symbolize wealth because of their shapes. Fish is chosen because the name is similar to a Chinese word for prosperity and Gam Yuk Moon Tong, gold and jade lettuce wraps, another of Wai Ling’s specialities, are served because the name for lettuce sounds like rising fortune.
“I love cooking Chinese food but Wai Ling knows all the meanings of things,” says Yee, who scooped a Deliciously Yorkshire Award in November.
She will be making ice cream to take the place of the traditional sweet cakes which symbolise a rich, sweet life.
Ex chartered surveyor Yee went on a course and set up a year ago. Her ices are heady with tastes of the East - her favourite is lime and lemongrass and Wai Ling’s is the lychee - and go to restaurants and shops in Yorkshire and London, where Harvey Nichols want to launch her.
Wai Ling’s tip: Always use a wok with smoking-hot oil.