It goes by many names, but no matter what you call it, yu sheng (Chinese homophone for increase in abundance) – or lo hei or Prosperity Toss – is the quintessential Singaporean dinner table ritual during the Chinese New Year. You’re probably going to toss up a storm more than once, so this year, serve up this beloved tradition with a twist or two!
The traditional yu sheng, has its place if you’re performing this ritual with the family - especially if Grandma is a lo heipurist who takes the symbolism of each ingredient very seriously. Conventional ingredients include fresh shredded carrot (good luck), green radish (eternal youth), and white radish (progress in the workplace), plus what you get in the packaged yu sheng mix, and of course, thinly sliced raw wolf herring (also known as ikan parang). Go for old-timer Kwong Cheong Thye’s Yee Sang for your traditional yu sheng fix.
The substitution of wolf herring with the ever-popular salmon is nothing new; we say take the more extravagant route and get hamachi (Japanese amberjack) instead. Alternatively, replace the raw fish entirely with the decadent likes of abalone (we picked New Moon Australian Abalone) or fish roe.
If you’re looking to be more adventurous for the New Year, try switching out the deep-fried flour crackers (meaning pieces of gold in yu sheng speak) for bits of crispy bacon– it’s more work but savoury palates will delight in the contrast with the sweet plum sauce. You could also use smoked duck breast or roast duck in place of the raw fish slices to top off the dish.
Everyone has a vegetarian pal or two, but the vegetarian yu sheng options at restaurants are usually plain boring (with mock fish slices). For a change, we got creative with the veggies and sliced up lotus roots, beetroots, and mushrooms to go with Chef Chen’s Green Tea Yusheng.
If that’s not radical enough, have a fruit-based yu sheng for dessert, as opposed to an appetizer. We say, throw in all your favourites, be it strawberries, honeydew, pears, or kiwis, but don’t forget to include essential Lunar New Year fruits like pomelo and mandarin oranges. These zesty and juicy sweet fruits make both a cheerful-looking platter and a palatable treat.
When it comes to the ‘sauce’, go with yoghurt or honey instead, topped with a sprinkle of cornflakes for those metaphorical gold pieces! The tossing might not be as light and easy, but hey, it tastes good and it’s healthy.
And remember, the higher you toss, the more your fortunes will grow - Gong Xi Fa Cai!
This article was contributed by Honeycombers.