While the Western world is winding down from New Year’s celebrations, countries across Asia are gearing up for Lunar New Year. This year, it will fall on Friday 16 February, when families and friends gather to pay their respects to one another, and welcome in the new lunar year with symbolic foods.
Just as the Japanese celebrate with osechi ryori, Malaysian and Singaporean people have their own unique customs when it comes to celebrating Chinese New Year. One of the tastiest traditions is the yu sheng or yee sang, which is believed to have first been created by Chinese immigrants. Also known as the ‘prosperity toss’, yu sheng is considered a lucky dish, thanks to its colourful array of symbolic ingredients arranged on a platter. Before anyone is allowed to dig in, friends and family gather around the platter with chopsticks and toss the salad together as high as they can, calling out auspicious phrases, such as “Good luck is approaching”, “May all your wishes be fulfilled”, and “Abundance through the year”.
Modern interpretations of the dish may feature up to 27 different ingredients, but for a classic yu sheng this Lunar New Year, choose these traditional ingredients, specially selected for their symbolism.
Raw fish – abundance
Pomelo – luck
Pepper – to attract wealth
Oil – drizzled in a circle to encourage money to flow in from all directions
Carrot – good luck
Shredded green radish – eternal youth
Shredded white radish – success in business
Peanuts – symbolic of gold and silver
Sesame seeds – flourishing business
Yu sheng plum sauce – sweetness in life
Fried wonton crisps – gold
Koreans also have their own take on the yu sheng, known as the yang jang pi. Also said to have been inspired by Chinese immigrants, the yang jang pi is a bountiful platter of seafood, marinated meats, raw and pickled vegetables, tossed in a hot mustard sauce. Korean cooking expert Heather Jeong created this incredible yang jang pi for the launch of our culinary hub in 2016.
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