The Chinese New Year dinner is one of the most important meals of the year for those who celebrate the holiday.

And one of the most important staples on the New Year dinner table is oysters.

The Chinese word for oysters is hou. explained Jenice Yu, a seafood expert and supplier at Fresh Ideas Start Here.

"Hou means wealth, rich, good business," said Yu.

"We believe that if we eat these during New Year's time we will have fortunes for the rest of the year."

Yu is a seafood expert — her family has been in the fish processing business since she was a young girl. Her appreciation for the industry translates into her work, where she provides seasonal bounty from local waters to local homes.

Several Chinese delicacies line the table during the Chinese New Year's Eve dinner. But oysters take the centre stage, in more ways than one. 

"It's great to eat them raw because the water is cold, the weather is cold. When it's cold out the oysters are nice and plump," says Yu.

In the video above, Yu shows Our Vancouver host Gloria Macarenko the different ways oysters can be served up at the table this Lunar New Year.

Raw oysters recipe: Oysters with orange and ginger mignonette

Ingredients:

  • 1 orange diced into 1 inch pieces. Save reserved juice
  • ½ teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 ½ tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon cilantro finely chopped
  • Sea salt + pepper to season
  • 1 dozen oysters shucked on the half shell

Directions:

  1. Combine all the ingredients except for the oysters in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon the mignonette over each shucked oyster. Serve cold immediately.

Fried oyster recipe: Gluten-free fried oysters with honey lemon ginger sauce

Ingredients:

  • 16 oz shucked and cleaned oysters
  • Tempura batter:
  • 1 ½ cup water
  • 1 cup Nextjen Gluten-Free Artisan Tempura Batter Mix
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar (optional)
  • Honey Lemon Ginger Sauce:
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • lemon zest from 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • sriracha (Asian hot chili sauce) to taste
  • 2 teaspoon corn starch

                
Directions:

  1. Pat dry oyster meat with a cloth or paper towel.
  2. To make the sauce: Saute garlic and ginger with some olive oil. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a simmer. Set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together tempura batter mix with water and let rest 5 minutes. 
  4. Batter each oyster and carefully fry in a 350 degree fryer. Cook 6 at a time until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Remove oyster from fryer and drain on paper towels. Serve hot with honey lemon ginger sauce.

Baked oyster recipe: Baked oyster with smoked uni butter

Ingredients: 

  • 12 raw oysters, shucked with half shell on
  • 1 pack smoked uni
  • 2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
  • Sea salt
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 2 tablespoon chives, chopped finely
  • Caviar or ikura for garnish, optional

 Directions:

  1. Turn broiler to high setting.
  2. To make uni butter: using a food processor, combine smoked uni and butter until smooth. Add lemon juice and blend for another 2 minutes. Set aside. 
  3.  Add 1 tablespoon of smoked uni butter on each oyster. Put oysters in broiler and cook for 3 minutes or until butter starts to brown and bubble. 
  4.  Be careful when taking out baked oysters. The shells can be very hot!  Garnish with chives and sea salt. Serve immediately