Tong tong chiang!
It’s time to toss the fishies in the air!
Yusheng , yee sang or yuu sahng or lou hei has been part of our Chinese culture here in SEA since the 1960’s the origin is probably started many more years before in China.
But according to Wikipedia, the modern day dish came from our southern brothers in Singapore. Is this true? Well no matter where it came from, yee sang is still a much loved delicacy to signal in the New Year.
This Chinese style salad is eaten on the seventh day of the New Year, but may also be eaten throughout the period and some actually have a head start.
Why do we love fishes so much? Well, it’s because the fish for the Chinese has the same sound as prosperity. A homophone so to speak. And we Asians are all about auspiciousness and prosperity.
Eating yee shang is a group event as final step requires team work to mix the ingredients together.
The delicacy is usually served with
daikon (white radish), carrots, red pepper (capsicum), turnips, red pickled ginger, sun-dried oranges, key lime leaves, Chinese parsley, chilli, jellyfish, chopped peanuts, toasted sesame seeds, Chinese shrimp crackers (or fried dried shrimp), five spice powder and other ingredients, laced with a sauce using plum sauce, rice vinegar, kumquat paste and sesame oil, for a total of 27 ingredients. Our region here usually includes the use of raw salmon for the fish factor.
There are rules as well in preparing it.
Here is the list of auspicious sayings in Mandarin to be uttered, and their meanings, when putting together the ingredients for yusheng.
- Raw fish: nian nian you yu, Overwhelming good fortune with plenty of leftovers
- Lime: da ji da li, for good luck
- Five spice powder and pepper: wu fu lin men, for good fortune
- Plum sauce: tian tian mi mi, for a honeyed year
- White radish: wan shi ru yi, for success
- Red chilli: zhao cai jin bao, for prosperity
- Lettuce: he qi sheng cai, for harmony and wealth
- Carrot: bu bu gao sheng, for eminence
- Pickled red ginger: hong yun dang tou, for good luck
- Oil: fu yun nian nian, for good fortune and luck
- Peanuts: jin sha man tang, for prosperity
- Crispy crackers: bian di huang jin, for prosperity
Everyone armed with their chopsticks.
Here is another list of wishes to be uttered according to the team composition dutring the great Lo/ toss. I only know the Cantonese version so if anyone could prove the translation please leave in the comment.
- Elders: San Tai Kin Hong (Cantonese) - Good health
- Married elders: Pak Tao Tou Lou (Cantonese) - Grow white hair together
- Children: Fai Gou Chong Tai (Cantonese) - Grow up fast and strong
- Students: Hok Yip Chun Bo (Cantonese) - Good education
- Working adults: Bou Bou Gou Seng (Cantonese) - Great prospects with special reference to promotions at work
- Businessman: Sang Yi Heng Long (Cantonese) - Good prospects in business
- Single/All ladies: Ching Chun Yong Zhu (Mandarin) - Everlasting youth and beauty
- Newly wedded couples: Nin Sang Kwai Zhi (Cantonese) - Bless with fertility
And a few more general wishes to seal the deal.
- Shen Ti Jian Kang (Mandarin) - Wellness in Health
- Wan Shi Ru Yi (Mandarin) - All wishes going your way
- Long Ma Jeng San (Cantonese) - In good spirits
- Yu Yi Gat Cheong (Cantonese) - Good Luck and smooth execution
- San Nin Fai Lok (Cantonese) - Happy New Year
- Giong Hi Huat Cai (Hokkien) - Wishing you a Happy and Prosperous New Year
It’s customarily to toss this salad for 7 times as high as you can and each time making your wish as the pieces of food succumbs to gravity. But sometimes we can get a little carried away and this usually happens
Perhaps a new tip would be to line the smaller plates around the yee sang so as to not waste the yummy morcels.
Wishing all the readers of Bonjour Glow a Joyful Chinese New Year~
Pictures courtesy of