As family and friends gather over celebratory meals during the Chinese New Year season each year, it is customary to kick off the feast with Lo Hei Yu Sheng (捞起鱼生).
But what does it all mean anyway? Well, Lo and Hei are Cantonese words that translate into “toss” and “rise”. Yu and Sheng literally mean “fish” and “raw” in Mandarin, but are homonyms for “abundance” and “life”. Hence, it is believed that the higher you toss the salad, the more abundant and high-flying your fortunes will be.
The dish usually consists of strips of a colourful series of julienned vegetables, a variety of sauces and condiments, and of course, strips of raw fish. But before you pick up your chopsticks and begin tossing in earnest, there are a few – well, 12, to be exact – steps to the whole Lo Hei process to get through first. To ensure a year of good fortune ahead, it’s worth it, right?
Lo Hei Yu Sheng Step by Step
Before it even begins, start by offering good wishes to everyone at the table. Try Gong Xi Fa Cai (恭喜发财; Congratulations for windfalls) or Wan Shi Ru Yi (万事如意; May all things go your way). As one person (either the head of the family or the restaurant server) proceeds to add each ingredient to the dish, diners should call out the following auspicious sayings in unison.
(See also: A Kiddy Feasting guide for the Chinese New Year)
Step 1: Arrange slices of raw fish
What to say: Nian Nian You Yu （年年有余）
It means: Abundance every year
Step 2: Squeeze lime juice over the fish
What to say: Da Ji Da Li （大吉大利）
It means: Much luck and fortune
Step 3: Scatter pepper and five-spice powder
What to say: Zhao Cai Jin Bao （招财进宝）
It means: Attract money and bring in treasures
Step 4: Drizzle the oil in a circular motion over the ingredients
What to say: Cai Yuan Guang Jin （财源广进）or Yi Ben Wan Li （一本万利）
It means: Wealth to come from all directions and increase profits 10,000 times
Step 5: Throw in the julienned carrots
What to say: Hong Yun Dang Tou （鸿运当头）
It means: Good luck is imminent
Step 6: Add the shredded green radish
What to say: Qing Chun Chang Zhu （青春常驻）
It means: Eternal youth
Step 7: Next is the shredded white radish
What to say: Feng Sheng Shui Qi （风生水起） or Bu Bu Gao Sheng （步步高升）
It means: Prosperity in business and promotions at work or in school
Step 8: Sprinkle finely chopped peanuts
What to say: Jin Yin Man Wu （金银满屋）
It means: A house filled with gold and silver
Step 9: Sprinkle sesame seeds
What to say: Sheng Yi Xing Long （生意兴隆）
It means: Flourishing business
Step 10: Scatter golden crackers
What to say: Pian Di Huang Jin （遍地黄金）
It means: Gold everywhere you step
Step 11: Pour the sweet plum sauce
What to say: Tian Tian Mi Mi （甜甜蜜蜜）
It means: Sweet and loving relationships
Step 12: Chopsticks at the ready? Toss away!
What to say: Huat ah! （发啊!）
It means: Prosperity!
Now that we’ve got the Lo Hei traditions figured out, here’s our pick of the seven most unique Yu Sheng salads that restaurants in Singapore have concocted to usher in the Year of the Fire Rooster. These are available both for takeaway and dining in, however, do enquire in advance as pre-orders and seating reservations are usually required.
Eight Happiness Gold Rush Yu Sheng
This celebration must-have features house-made champagne jelly with edible gold leaf to represent the ushering of wealth. Honey pineapple is incorporated into the dressing as Ong Lai (Hokkien for pineapple) translates into “prosperity arrives”. It creates the perfect sweet-sour balance that complements the fresh salmon slices. The limited edition presentation by chef de cuisine Leong Chee Yeng is only available upon special request.
Where: Jade Restaurant, The Fullerton Hotel Singapore
How much: $68+ (serves 5 pax and below; for dine-in only), $88+ (serves 6-8 pax), $128+ (serves 9-12 pax)
Find out more: http://shop.fullertonhotel.com
Jewels of Prosperity Premium Yu Sheng
This lavish creation takes requisite raw fish to a new level with succulent cuts of fresh fatty tuna belly, salmon belly, air-flown Hokkaido scallops and Alaskan crab. Golden yellow osmanthus sauce is drizzled over the salad, which is then topped off with crispy salmon skin, black caviar and flakes of gold leaf.
Where: The Salon, Hotel Fort Canning
How much: $168+ (serves 8-10 pax)
Find out more: www.hfcsingapore.com
Black Truffle Yu Sheng with Hokkaido Crab Meat, Silver Bait Fish and Fresh Fruits
This luxurious platter combines the use of ingredients that represent extravagance – from Hokkaido crab to slices of black truffle. Fresh fruits add texture to the dish and signify a refreshing start to the new year. It’s topped off with crispy silver bait fish for a unique touch.
Where: Man Fu Yuan, InterContinental Singapore
How much: $138 (serves 8-10 pax)
Find out more: http://singapore.intercontinental.com/cny
(See also: Lunar New Year Fashion for New Mums)
Flourishing Wealth Reunion Yu Sheng
Toss your way to good fortune with one of Hai Tien Lo’s six auspicious platters. Leading the way is the Flourishing Wealth Reunion Yu Sheng. It comes packed with Boston lobster, Norwegian salmon and surf clams. The all-time favourite Fortune Yu Sheng with surf clams and Norwegian salmon is also available.
Where: Hai Tien Lo, Pan Pacific Singapore
How much: $88+ (serves 4-6 pax), $168+ (serves 7-10 pax)
Find out more: www.pacificmarketplace.sg
Salmon and Shredded Chicken Yusheng with Green Peppercorn Sauce
Executive chef Zeng Feng Injects subtle Sichuan flavours into the ubiquitous Chinese New Year celebratory dish. Fresh green peppercorns and minced spring onions make for a jade green sauce that adds a unique flavour to the salad. Shredded chicken is added as an ode to the Year of the Rooster.
Where: Si Chuan Dou Hua, PARKROYAL on Beach Road
How much: $68 (small), $88 (large)
Find out more: www.sichuandouhua.com
Rice of the Phoenix Yu Sheng
Inspired by Singapore’s favourite chicken rice dish, this rendition sees crispy chicken rice puffs, barbecued chicken bak kwa (jerky strips) and Phoenix’s claws (boneless chicken feet) served with a special concoction of garlic chilli, ginger flower honey sauce and aromatic garlic chicken oil. Top it off with lobster sashimi, chicken skin crisps, braised sea cucumber jelly and other ingredients for bursts of flavour in every mouthful.
Where: Gourmet Carousel, Royal Plaza on Scotts
How much: $188 (serves 4-6 pax), $218 (serves 8-10 pax)
Find out more: www.carouselbuffet.com.sg
Alaskan Crab ‘Loh Hei’ Platter
The newest addition from executive chef Chung Yiu Ming features a generous serving of fresh succulent Alaskan crab meat. This sits atop a mélange of quintessential ingredients like pomelo, yam, sweet potato, white radish, carrot and pickled ginger. Also available are options with salmon, ikan parang, abalone, lobster and even a vegetarian version.
Where: Li Bai Cantonese Restaurant, Sheraton Towers Singapore
How much: $138 (small), $260 (large)
Find out more: www.sheratonsingapore.com