Did you know that specific dishes are consumed during Chinese New Year because of their symbolic meaning?
Just like other festive celebrations, food plays an important role during Chinese New Year – but merely the lucky ones. Only culinary dishes that are believed to bring in good luck for the upcoming year will be served during this festivity. One of the most common Chinese New Year culinary dishes includes fish which symbolizes prosperity.
Fish as a symbol of prosperity
Fish is a very popular dish during Chinese New Year as they are perceived to bring luck. The word fish in Chinese is “yu”, a homonym for surplus/abundance (also pronounced as “yu”). Therefore, fish and luck have been closely associated with one another for years as they sound so similar.
As surplus/abundance also signifies no scarcity in fortune, health, and friendship, fish in China brings a metaphorical meaning of not only wealth, but also victory, happiness and all kinds of goodness.
One of the most common fish dishes that is served during Chinese New Year goes by the name yusheng. This refers to a colorful plate of salad which consists of fish strips, normally salmon, and shredded ingredients, such as ginger, onion, carrot, lettuce, green apple, cucumber, turnip, coriander, along with green shallots, toasted sesame seeds and crushed roasted peanuts.
For the dressing, Chinese plum sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil, and warm water are frequently used. However, different families may interpret this recipe in another way. Some also marinate their raw salmon overnight using rice wine and soy sauce or even add crispy fried fish skins on the serving.
A vegetarian version is also available where the fish is substituted with a soy “fish”, made to an identical appearance of a salmon.
The Prosperity Toss
Preparing a yusheng dish brings everyone together. The process is really communal, where everyone gets to participate in arranging the meal. As a tradition, everyone will hold an ingredient and recite a favorable saying as they toss the ingredients using their chopsticks.
There is no particular direction of who gets to say the phrase first. Everyone can simply shout simultaneously as they toss the ingredients. This ritual is called Lo Hei.
It is also important to toss them to the center and higher than the last one. This symbolizes that prosperity will keep on growing and not remain just the same or even drop, since there is a common belief saying that a higher toss reflects the growth of one’s prosperity. Once all of the ingredients have been added, together they will be tossed another 7 times with shouts of “Lo Hei!”
– 100g wonton wrappers, sliced 1 cm wide
– ¼ cup (40g) thinly sliced candied ginger
– 1 piece (40g) grated fresh ginger
– ¼ cup (40g) thinly sliced pickled ginger
– 2 tbsp (20g) julienned red salted ginger
– 2 tbsp (20g) sliced pickled onion
– 1 cup (100g) shredded carrot
– 2 cups (100g) shredded lettuce
– 1 cup (100g) shredded green apple
– 1 cup (100g) shredded cucumber
– 1 medium (180g) turnip, shredded
– 200g thinly sliced salmon sashimi (can also be replaced with smoked salmon)
– 1 tbsp chopped coriander
– 3 shredded green shallots
– ½ cup (75g) sesame seeds, toasted
– ¾ cup (100g) crushed roasted peanuts
– ½ tsp five spice powder
– ½ tsp pepper
– ½ cup (150g) Chinese plum sauce
– 1½ tbsp soy sauce
– 2½ tbsp sesame oil
– 2 tbsp warm water
• Heat oil in saucepan over medium heat until 180ºC.
• Deep-fry sliced wonton wrappers until golden and crisp (15-20 seconds).
• Use a skimmer to remove oil and drain on a paper towel.
• Arrange slices of salmon at the center of a round plate.
• Shred the other ingredients and place them in a round pile around the salmon slices.
• Place the sauce ingredients in a bottle and shake well.
• Pour sauce over salad in a circular motion.
• Your Yusheng is ready to be tossed and eaten!
Celebrate Chinese New Year with delicious and meaningful meals. As Bali’s leading food supplier, Puri Pangan Utama strives to always provide excellent products for your kitchen needs. Order and receive high quality products for your Chinese New Year dish from us.