Lunar New Year is not complete without mixing the auspicious yusheng (raw fish salad), a tradition known as lo hei (Cantonese for tossing to great heights). We share the origins of this dish and where to get the picks of the season.
It began as a simple raw fish salad eaten on the seventh day of Lunar New Year, a practice that early settlers from Guangdong, China, brought to Singapore. Thanks to some creative tweaking – think colourful ingredients and a piquant dressing – by four local Cantonese chefs in the 1960s, the tradition of lo hei yusheng has evolved into an elaborate dining must-have at every festive gathering throughout the 15 days of Chinese New Year.
As ingredients such as raw fish slices and lime juice are added to the platter, auspicious sayings such as “nian nian you yu” (abundance every year) and “da ji da li” (great fortune and wealth) are called out by the server and often echoed by diners. When the process is complete, everyone picks up their chopsticks to toss the salad together, a lively and often amusing scene with strands of shredded vegetables flying in every direction – all in the hopes of a year of prosperity and happiness ahead.
SEE ALSO: Chinese New Year: Culture and Traditions
1. Cassia’s Prosperity Lou Hei – Capella Singapore (January 14 to February 11)
To signify a prosperous new year ahead, Cassia’s Prosperity Lou Hei comprises a generous serving of fresh greens, salmon and homemade passionfruit sauce for a citrusy kick. Each ingredient has been meticulously handpicked by the Cantonese fine-dining restaurant’s executive chef Lee Hiu Ngai.
2. Fortune 3D Fiery Rooster Yu Sheng – Conrad Centennial Singapore (January 10 to February 11)
Golden Peony’s executive Chinese chef Ku Keung has fashioned a chocolate rooster standing tall amid a nest of julienned vegetables, tossed in a zesty homemade sauce. The dish’s full name, Fortune 3D Fiery Rooster Yu Sheng with Kanpachi, Abalone, Salmon, Crispy Fish Skin and White Bait, may be a mouthful to recite, but this tossed salad is surely a mouthful worth savouring.
3. Eight Happiness Gold Rush Yu Sheng – The Fullerton Hotel Singapore (January 2 to February 11)
Served on a platter decorated with calligraphic drawings of roosters and auspicious greetings by Jade’s chef de cuisine Leong Chee Yeng, Eight Happiness Gold Rush Yu Sheng is prepared with a twist. It comes with slices of fresh salmon, house-made champagne jelly with edible gold leaf, as well as drizzles of olive oil and honey-pineapple dressing.
SEE ALSO: Chinese New Year Singapore Style
4. Black Truffle Yu Sheng – InterContinental Singapore (January 2 to February 11)
Boasting slices of black truffle and chunks of Hokkaido crab meat, this new yusheng dish created by Man Fu Yuan’s executive Chinese chef Kwan Yiu Kwan places the focus on ingredients that represent extravagance. Fresh fruit such as mango adds a refreshing touch, while crispy silver bait fish provides another layer to the range of textures.
5. Healthy Black Truffle Vegetarian Yu Sheng – Singapore Marriott Tang Plaza Hotel (January 9 to February 11)
While raw fish naturally takes the limelight in most yusheng platters, Wan Hao Chinese Restaurant is offering a creation with slices of black truffle as the focal point, perfect for vegetarian celebrations. Five other variations are also available, featuring seafood such as lobster, salmon, caviar and abalone, as well as a chicken bak kwa (barbecued sweet meat) option to mark the Year of the Rooster.
6. Seafood Lo-Hei Yu Sheng – Marina Bay Sands (January 27-29)
Celebrity chef Mario Batali’s Osteria Mozza has reinterpreted the ubiquitous yusheng Italian Riviera style. Featuring slices of fresh hamachi, salmon and scallops served with shredded vegetables and citrus fruits, the dish also has crispy cannoli bits that provide a lovely crunch. A fragrant sesame vinaigrette tops it all off.
7. Rice of the Phoenix Yu Sheng – Royal Plaza on Scotts (January 20 to February 11)
Including ingredients found in Singapore’s favourite chicken-rice dish, the platter is served with a concoction of garlic chilli and green ginger sauces, as well as items like lobster sashimi, crispy chicken rice puffs and chicken bak kwa. From the inventive culinary team behind buffet restaurant Carousel, Rice of the Phoenix Yu Sheng is an inspired ode to the Year of the Rooster.
8. Prosperity Yu Sheng – Shangri-La Hotel, Singapore (January 16 to February 11)
To symbolise prosperity and success, this new yusheng creation from Shang Palace features poached lobster and smoked salmon. Master chef Steven Ng has also incorporated unique ingredients such as organic grape vinegar, beetroot, arugula and purple sweet potato chips, giving the Chinese New Year must-have a refreshing twist.
– BY MANDY LIM BEITLER