Gallery: 16 Appetizers to Ring in the Chinese New Year

Pan-Fried Vegetable Dumplings
Pan-Fried Vegetable Dumplings

These pan-fried dumplings just happen to be vegan: stuffed with cabbage, carrots, five-spiced tofu, and seitan. They're juicy even without the addition of fatty pork.

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[Photograph: Shao Z.]

Shredded Chicken Salad with Gochujang Dressing
Shredded Chicken Salad with Gochujang Dressing

The dressing for this salad stars Gochujang, a condiment that's thick with a hint of sweetness and some great chili flavor but a very mild heat. The chicken is served over watercress, mixed baby leaves, onion, and cucumber, for a refreshing but satisfying salad.

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[Photograph: Shao Z.]

Sichuan-Style Braised Eggplant With Pickled Chilies and Garlic (Yu Xiang Qie Zi)
Sichuan-Style Braised Eggplant With Pickled Chilies and Garlic (Yu Xiang Qie Zi)

The direct translation of this dish is "fish fragrant eggplant," but it actually contains no fish or animal products at all. Smoky eggplant is stir-fried until tender, then tossed with a quick sauce flavored with chilies, black vinegar, sugar, ginger, and garlic, making for a quick, easy, and hearty dish.

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[Photograph: J. Kenji López-Alt]

Hot and Numbing Xi'an Style Oven-Fried Chicken Wings
Hot and Numbing Xi'an Style Oven-Fried Chicken Wings

These crispy, juicy oven-fried chicken wings are packed with a complex layer of flavors. Smoky chilies, cumin, and anise combine with extra-hot Sichuan peppercorns, cilantro, and scallions for the spicy sauce.

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[Photograph: J. Kenji López-Alt]

Chinese Bean Curd Rolls Stuffed With Pork, Mushroom, and Ginger
Chinese Bean Curd Rolls Stuffed With Pork, Mushroom, and Ginger

Fresh bean curd skin is a delicacy in China. It's smooth and a little sweet, with a mild soybean flavor. When stuffed with pork, mushroom, and ginger, they make an excellent savory appetizer.

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[Photograph: Shao Z.]

Crystal Skin Shrimp Dumplings (Har Gow)
Crystal Skin Shrimp Dumplings (Har Gow)

Har gow are some of the most classic dumplings you'd find on a dim sum cart. They're plump and juicy, with chunks of shrimp just barely visible through the translucent dough.

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[Photograph: Shao Z.]

Taiwanese Pork Belly Buns (Gua Bao)
Taiwanese Pork Belly Buns (Gua Bao)

Fluffy steamed buns are stuffed with tender braised pork belly, pickled mustard greens, fresh cilantro, and powdered peanuts. Although braising the pork belly can take a while, the recipe is fairly hands-off and requires little effort.

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[Photograph: Cathy Erway]

Ground Pork and Corn Congee (Chinese Rice Porridge)
Ground Pork and Corn Congee (Chinese Rice Porridge)

Congee is a staple in a number of Asian countries. It is essentially rice and water cooked down into a thick, rich porridge flavored with corn, fresh ground pork, ginger, and garlic.

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[Photograph: Shao Z.]

Light and Tender Lotus Seed Buns
Light and Tender Lotus Seed Buns

These fluffy, sweet buns are flavored with a paste made from lotus flower seeds. The mixture of all-purpose flour with cornstarch inhibits gluten formation, resulting in a lighter, more tender bun.

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[Photograph: Shao Z.]

Chinese Lion's Head Pork Meatballs With Vermicelli and Cabbage
Chinese Lion's Head Pork Meatballs With Vermicelli and Cabbage

In this dish, ground pork is mixed with mashed tofu and minced water chestnuts, seared until golden. It's then simmered in broth with vermicelli noodles, cabbage, and bok choi. The addition of mashed tofu makes for moist, tender meatballs.

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[Photograph: Shao Z.]

Soup Dumplings (Xiao Long Bao)
Soup Dumplings (Xiao Long Bao)

Soup dumplings are pleated up like a purse to keep all the filling snug inside, whereas fried dumplings have a long seam down the side. These dumplings, though time consuming, burst open in a mouthful of savory broth with a tender meatball floating inside as you bite into them.

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[Photograph: J. Kenji López-Alt]

Egg Drop Soup
Egg Drop Soup

The broth of egg-drop soup should taste of ginger and scallion itself. It should have a clear, slightly thick broth that tastes intensely of chicken.

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[Photograph: J. Kenji López-Alt]

Dan Dan Noodles
Dan Dan Noodles

Dan Dan noodles are super spicy with a fruity, smoky undertone from the roasted chili oil. Make your own chili oil, and it'll improve the flavor of your noodles tenfold.

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[Photograph: J. Kenji López-Alt]

Crispy Pork and Cabbage Egg Rolls
Crispy Pork and Cabbage Egg Rolls

Egg rolls are a quintessential Chinese appetizer. Crispy on the outside and stuffed with a super savory filling of cabbage, carrots, mushrooms, and char siu, they make for a satisfying start to any meal.

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[Photograph: J. Kenji López-Alt]

Pork and Cabbage Dumplings with Homemade Wrappers
Pork and Cabbage Dumplings with Homemade Wrappers

Made properly, fried dumplings have golden brown, ultra-crisp fried bottoms, with a skin that's springy and chewy, but never tough or doughy. Fatty pork gives the fillings a rich, meaty taste, and the cabbage helps hold them together.

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[Photograph: J. Kenji López-Alt]

Extra-Flaky Scallion Pancakes
Extra-Flaky Scallion Pancakes

Scallion pancakes are surprisingly simple to make, as long as you get the lamination process right. They are golden brown, with discrete, flaky layers and a subtle bite from the scallions.

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[Photograph: J. Kenji López-Alt]