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Three food writers suggest celebratory Cantonese, Sichuanese and Taiwanese dishes that will have you over the moon

Traditionally, a whole fish is steamed at the new year to symbolise abundance and unity, because the homonym for fish means “abundance”. I’m using sustainable hake fillets which are tender and succulent. They belong to the cod family so they still have a wonderful texture, slightly smaller flakes than cod but still a delicious sweet taste. For this recipe, I am using hake fillets with the skin on (to keep their shape), sliced into 2cm chunks. I love to shallow fry the fish pieces, make a hot, sour and sweet General Tso’s sauce with dried red chillies, peppers and onions, and then toss the fish pieces back into the dish.

There are many variations of the sauce invented by chef Peng Chang-kuei who fled China in 1949 and ended up in America, where it’s thought he added tomato paste to cater for a sweet-sour taste to suit the American palate. For vegan friends, you can use cauliflower or tofu instead of the hake and it works just as well. I love this alternative lunar new year dish – the fish of abundance, fried golden to symbolise prosperity, and then red peppers in the reddish sauce bring the luck. As a final garnish, I like to sprinkle over some black sesame seeds. The homonym for “sons” is tze which is also the homonym for “seeds” therefore blessing you with plenty of offspring.

Dumplings are traditionally served at the lunar new year feast because their shape resembles ingots of gold. So, it’s important to have a dumpling course. I love the simplicity of these dumplings; and boiling them means the flavours of the pork and crab shine through. Dress the dumplings with a spicy sour chilli sauce and garnish with aromatic coriander.

Fuchsia Dunlop’s pipa tofu in a Sichuanese sauce

This Sichuan version of a Cantonese classicmakes a fine vegetarian centrepiece for the new year meal, and echoes the pork meatballs that are often included in festive stews. The dish is named because the quenelle-shaped tofu balls are supposed to resemble the pipa, or Chinese lute. Use the blocks of plain white tofu, usually immersed in water, that are sold in most Chinese supermarkets (not silken tofu). It varies in consistency, but the finished tofu balls should be delicious whether firmer or more custardy in texture. You can deep-fry the balls a few hours in advance, and finish the dish when you are ready to serve it.