The ritual of eating Yusheng, a raw fish salad, is common in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia throughout the Lunar New Year season. This festive salad celebrates togetherness and well wishes for prosperity. In Mandarin, the word for fish (“yu” 鱼) sounds like the word for abundance (“yu” 余); and the word for raw (“sheng” 生) shares the same character and sound as the word for growth/life (“sheng” 生). This dish is also known as Lo Hei, which means “tossing up” in Cantonese.
To connect with our family’s Jewish culinary traditions, this recipe uses lox instead of raw fish, which adds a smoky element to the salad. It also replaces plum sauce with an American Jewish favorite, Gold’s Sweet and Sour Duck Sauce (an American Chinese version of plum sauce).
Sometimes I change up the ingredients slightly, depending on what is in season where I live.
This salad is full of beautiful colors and textures in every bite! Most of the prep work can be done the day before. Wonton strips can be fried a week before, or you can buy them already fried.
When assembling the dish with friends and family, a corresponding phrase is recited as you add each ingredient. At the end, everyone uses their chopsticks to toss the dish together as high as possible; the higher the toss, the more wealth in the new year! Use the biggest platter you have, since it will make quite a mess.
Here are some ingredient ideas:
Fish: Lox, smoked salmon or sashimi grade salmon
Vegetables: Carrot, purple daikon, green daikon, pickled ginger, white radish, watermelon radish, turnips, red cabbage, jicama, cilantro, cucumber, pickled red onions and scallions
Fruit: Pomelo, grapefruit, mango, mandarin orange, green mango, green papaya, kiwi and cantaloupe
Crunch: Roasted chopped peanuts, toasted sesame seeds, fried wonton strips, crispy chow mein noodles and crispy shallots