Sydney Fish Market is a must-visit destination in the lead-up to Lunar New Year… Not only is seafood a key part of Chinese celebrations at this time of year, but the Market is decorated to the nines with gorgeous red lanterns, and this year is set to play host to traditional Lion Dance performances on both Sunday 30th January, and Tuesday 1st February!
For more information on the event, click here.
If you’re planning on paying Sydney Fish Market a visit to ring in the Lunar New Year, these are some of the must-try traditional seafood dishes available in our retailers.
Whole fish is the single most important cultural dish eaten on Lunar New Year. The tradition of eating whole fish at this special occasion arose as the pronunciation of the Chinese word for “fish” also means “abundance”; therefore, this dish is symbolic of wellbeing and prosperity in the year ahead. Furthermore, preparing and serving the fish whole is said to represent a good start and finish to the new year (head to tail!).
Almost all of Sydney Fish Market’s hot food retailers have multiple whole fish dishes available. You can even choose a fish from the fresh display and have it cooked to order! The traditional cooking method is steaming, topped with soy sauce, ginger and green onions. Hot seasoned oil is then poured over the top, to activate the aromatics and crisp up the skin.
Superstition says it’s bad luck to turn a fish over, so instead, lift the bones out once one side is fully eaten, and access the bottom side that way.
Seafood in XO Sauce
XO sauce is an iconic condiment hailing from Hong Kong, made from dried seafood, salty ham, shallots, garlic, chili, and oil. It is a real flavour bomb that can be spooned over any number of dishes to add a rich umami taste. It’s name, “XO”, is Hong Kong shorthand for high quality, prestige, and luxury, making it the ideal sauce to enjoy on a special occasion like Lunar New Year.
You can order almost any species of seafood cooked in XO sauce at Sydney Fish Market – pipis, prawns, lobster, crab, abalone – the options are truly endless. Our recommendation is to talk to the staff in your favourite retailer and ask them what is good quality and fresh on that particular day, then ask for it to be stir-fried in XO sauce for you. Easy!
During Lunar New Year celebrations, scallops are said to symbolise new opportunities, or the opening of new horizons, due to their beautiful open shells.
The traditional way to enjoy them is steamed with soy and spring onions, but options for scallops abound at Sydney Fish Market – grilled, steamed, as sashimi, slathered in cheese and blowtorched to perfection… You can’t go wrong!
While the cheesy scallops available at Peter’s Aburi Bar are decidedly untraditional, they are a firm favourite of our regular visitors.
Noodles are a key element of any Lunar New Year feast – the length of the noodles represents the longevity of one’s life, and they are therefore very culturally important.
Many visitors to Sydney Fish Market don’t know that you can order your chosen hot seafood dish atop a bed of fresh noodles: this is an especially tasty way to enjoy species like Lobster and Crab. Just choose your species, choose your sauce, and get slurping!
Abalone is a revered species in Chinese culture, representing good fortune for the year ahead. Traditionally, Abalone was served among families on the fifteenth day of the Chinese New Year to mark the end of the holiday, but now it is served on any day during the fifteen-day period.
Abalone is a highly sought-after ingredient, meaning that in Australia, you will sometimes see it priced at around $100/kg! At Sydney Fish Market, you can have two Abalone cooked fresh for you in your choice of sauce (we recommend ginger and shallot or XO!), for around $50. It’s on the pricier side, but absolutely delicious, and great for a special occasion!
Crab is a fantastic centrepiece to a Lunar New Year feast (Kylie Kwong’s favourite, in fact), and its bright red hue is a symbol of prosperity and good luck! Chilli Crab is a dish enjoyed in many Asian cultures, and while each country has its own take on the recipe, it is always guaranteed to be delicious.
Ask your favourite retailer which crab they recommend on the day – Mud Crab is a traditional classic, but they may have some King Crab on offer if supply has been good – and ask to have it cooked in Chilli Sauce. Enjoying this dish is a decadently messy affair, so grab some napkins and be prepared to dig in with your hands!