YU SHENG | LO HEI
Yu Sheng is a colourful dish comprising of raw fish (Yu Sheng 鱼生) (salmon more often than not), grated carrots, radish, red pepper, jellyfish, sesame seeds, crushed peanuts, pomelo, dried orange peel, crackers and a handful of condiments including five spice powder, plum sauce and vinegar.
The words "abundance" (Yu 余) and "increase" (Sheng 升) sound the same as the name of the dish, thereby showing its significance. It is also known as Lo Hei (Cantonese for 捞起) which means to lift
Yu Sheng was formally created and made popular in Singapore in the 1960s, and is a variation of several Chinese dialect dishes involving raw fish and vegetables. It is a Chinese New Year dish unique to Singapore and Malaysia.
Just before the tossing of the Yu Sheng, the condiments are scattered over the dish and the person doing it would pronounce blessings of prosperity, increase and abundance for the new year. Everyone then gathers around the huge plate with a pair of chopsticks in hand (at some restaurants, a long pair of approximately 15-inch chopsticks is provided) and the tossing begins!
It is a noisy affair as people speak out blessings for the new year as they toss the Yu Sheng. The belief is that the higher you toss, the better it is. The resultant taste of the Yu Sheng is mainly sweet with a tinge of sour and a crunchy texture.
The tossing of the Yu Sheng can be done anytime over the the 15 days of the Lunar New Year celebrations. People normally order this in restaurants while having a meal with family, friends or business associates. Some families prepare this at home, or purchase a ready made set from the supermarket, so if you get a chance to visit a Singaporean home during this festive time, do Lo Hei with them!
*Chinatown is a must-visit during CNY. Take a glimpse with us!
The way a toast is proposed in a Chinese banquet setting (company dinners, family reunion means and especially during wedding dinners when 3 toasts are proposed to the newly weds) in Singapore is a noisy but fun affair. "Yum seng" is a phrase in Cantonese and literally means to drink to victory. It is the equivalent to "Bottoms up!" or "Cheers!".
How to participate in a "Yum Seng":
1. Stand up.
2. Have a beverage in hand, preferably wine or beer.
3. Take a deep breath.
4. Go "Yuuuuuuuuuuuuu....." and hold it for as long and loud as you can.
5. Take the cue from the emcee or from someone at the same table who would usually give some indication to end the toast, and go "....uum seng!".
This can be fun because people at some tables try to do their "Yum sengs" louder than the rest and this can get a little competitive.