Chinese New Year 2024

Chinese New Year 2024

The Chinese Year of the Wood Dragon starts on Saturday, 10 February, and traditionally celebrations go on for 15 days, ending on February 24.

Most Chinese families have a big reunion meal on the eve of Chinese New Year and in China this usually involves some family members travelling long distances to return to their villages, if they have gone to the big cities to work, so the trains and buses are always very crowded.

I remember being really excited as a child in Singapore because Chinese New Year for my family meant Dad would cook his famous chicken curry and at the time, eating chicken was a bit of a luxury.

Other auspicious new year dishes include steamed fish with ginger, prawns, and any seafood.

Mum would make her delicious Penang pickle a few weeks before and this involved cutting up pieces of carrot, cauliflower, onions and chillies and drying them in the sun before pickling them in her secret concoction.

We also visited each other's families and enjoyed the cakes and delicacies offered, like pineapple tarts, cookies and mandarins, which also signify wealth because of their golden colour. Of course, the hong baos or red packets of money were the main attraction for us kids.

Plenty of Chinese restaurants in Melbourne will be offering special menus for Chinese New Year, so it's a good time to go out and celebrate.


I am no expert on Chinese horoscopes or predictions, so I've done my research from various sources and my advice is to take everything with a large pinch of salt.

The Year of the Wood Dragon begins on February 10, 2024 and is believed to be able to foster growth, progress and abundance.

According to Chinese mythology, the dragon is the only mythical creature in the horoscope because the others are all real animals, starting with the rat and ending with the pig, with others in between, like the rabbit which we will farewell soon, the monkey, dog, goat and snake, in between.

The dragon is related to success, intelligence and honour in Chinese culture, while wood dragons are full of energy and dream of changing the world.

Wood represents vitality and creativity, while the dragon is related to success, intelligence and honour.

This combination makes people born in the Year of the Wood Dragon full of energy and drive. They dream of changing the world and are good at coming up with innovative ideas and implementing them.

They are perfectionists and will not give up on their goals easily.

Dragons are those born in 1916, 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012 and 2024.

Those born in the Year of the Dragon are charismatic, confident and gifted and they include Abraham Lincoln, Al Pacino, Emma Stone, Isabella Rossellini, Martin Luther King Jr, John Lennon, Rihanna and of course Bruce Lee, whose Chinese name, Lee Xiao Long, means little dragon.

Well, I wish everyone a very happy Chinese new year, whether you're born in the year of the dragon or otherwise and may we all be happy, healthy and prosperous.


Try this recipe for Sticky Pork Belly by Sarah Tiong from

1 kg pork belly rashers, cut into 2cm squares


15g piece ginger, thinly sliced

1.5 cups stock or water

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 shallot, finely sliced

2 star anise

2 cinnamon sticks

2 tbsp light soy sauce

2 tbsp dark soy sauce

2 tbsp brown sugar

1 bunch of green basil, leaves only

3 long red chillies, sliced and seeds removed

pepper to taste

Heat a wok or large frypan and when hot, lower heat to medium-high and add some oil.

When hot, add in the pork belly squares, sliced shallots, garlic and half of the sliced ginger.

Fry until the pork belly is lightly caramelised.

Add in the dark and light soy sauce and 2 of the sliced chillies (adjust heat to your liking). Combine well.

Add in the water or stock and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook with lid on for 30 minutes until the liquid has reduced.

Add cinnamon and star anise. If there is not enough liquid, add a little more water. Cover, and simmer for an additional 20 - 30 minutes until meat is tender and sticky.

Add pepper, the remaining ginger and brown sugar. Stir well to combine.

Turn off the heat. Mix in the basil leaves and remaining chilli slices.

Serve with steamed rice. Delicious!

This year I'm delighted that my nephew Yok Teng Chionh from Singapore has contributed a recipe for Chinese New Year.

His matcha Amaretti cookies sound delightful and I plan to try it out when I have an hour or so from my busy schedule.

Yok Teng is a scientist with infectious diseases and cancer therapy.

Cooking and jogging helps him unwind from the rigours of work and often his five and three-year-old sons jog with him.

The eldest likes to help and watch him cook, while the youngest has yet to show some interest.

Happy cooking, boys!

Matcha Amaretti Cookies from Yok Teng Chionh

Makes about 30 cookies

2 cups almond flour

1 tbsp matcha powder

¾ cup granulated sugar

3 medium egg whites

Pinch of salt

Juice of half lemon

1/3 cup icing/powdered sugar (for dusting)

Preheat oven to 150ᵒC.

Whisk egg whites with pinch of salt and the lemon juice to soft peaks.

Mix almond flour, sugar and matcha powder well.

Add in the wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. Knead until smooth.

Line 2 layers of baking trays with baking paper.

Use a tablespoon or cookie scoop and shape dough into 2-3cm round balls.

Aliquot out the cookies dough using a tablespoon or cookie scoop.

Roll in powdered sugar and place onto baking trays, 3cm apart.

Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until you see cracks on the cookies.

Cool on wire rack.

Store in airtight container and enjoy!