Monday, 18 February 2013

Recipe - How To make Yu-Sheng (Raw Fish Salad)

Eating Yu-Sheng during the Chinese New Year started as a legend in China. It has now evolved into a ritual in both Singapore and Malaysia where it has become almost a must have dish to eat during the Chinese Lunar New Year.

Yu( 鱼) - means fish, Sheng( 生) - means raw or live. Yu-sheng (鱼生) means raw fish salad. In Chinese, it sounds like (余升) Yu-Sheng which means continued abundance.

Legend has it that the 7th day of the Lunar New Year is known as the common man's birthday or Ren Ri  (人日). On  this day, the Chinese would eat only vegetables. Nowadays, the colourful salad of Yu-Sheng is eaten throughout the 15 days of Chinese New Year celebrations. Restaurants, eateries like coffee shops and supermarkets also offer this dish at a premium.

Here is my take on how to make your very own Yu-Sheng. It is relatively easy dish to make, delicious and healthy. It is also easy on the pocket. You can invite friends and family to join and toss this colourful dish and make wishes for continued wealth and prosperity.

There are 3 key ingredients for this dish.

The 1st is the plum sauce. This give the dish the sweet and sour taste. There are many brands available and the plum sauce can be used for many dishes. I used the "AAA" brand which is thick but runny (viscous). So I can just drizzle it over the vegetables. If you use those that are like jam, you have to mix it with water to dilute it.

The 2nd key ingredient is the crispy parts. I used wonton skins, cut them into strips and pan fry till crispy. The crispy wonton skins are a delight to eat. Other substitutes for crispy parts can be prawn or fish crackers or some other crispy stuff.

The 3rd key ingredient is the crunchy stuff. Roasted peanuts are nice. They can be bought off the shelf and just crush them into tiny bits, with a coarse blender or by a manual chopper (with your hand if you are a martial art expert).

Now for the veggies. The idea is to have all the colours of the rainbow. Since the Yu-Sheng is celebrated on the 7th day of the Chinese New Year, it would be nice to have 7 kinds of veggies and their colours  should match the 7 colours of the rainbow. 

Here is my take:


yu-sheng before the toss
shredded white radish (1 section)
shredded carrot (1)
shredded cucumber (1) or zucchini
lettuce, thinly sliced 
yellow capsicum thinly sliced or julienne
red capsicum thinly sliced or julienne
green capsicum thinly sliced or julienne
pickled pink ginger

Others that can be added
green apples
pomelos/purple cabbage/purple lettuce
pineapple/dragon fruit/seaweed

The key ingredients

cripy and crunchy stuff
crushed roated peanuts
preserved jelly fish
crispy wonton skins

You can have raw salmon
or cooked prawns
or squids
or abalone
or anything you like

Lay the veggies on a large serving plate
Place all the veggies on the plate
Sprinkle lime juice over the veggies
Drizzle plum sauce over the veggies
Drizzle a tbs of shallot oil (or any oil)
Add jellyfish and pickled ginger on top
Add all the crispy and crunchy stuff
Just toss and eat

This delightful and healthy dish of yu-sheng is relatively easy to prepare and easy on the pocket. The best part is you can vary the ingredients so that it does not have to be repetitive. You do not have to wait till the 7th day of the Lunar New year to enjoy this dish. How often can you combine different kinds of veggies into one dish ?


A 9 minute video where Chef Wong from the Swiss-Garden Hotel Kuala Lumpur demonstrates how to prepare yee sang, an auspicious dish during the Chinese New Year.

A 13 minute video on the history of Singapore Yu-Sheng

Another video on making yu sheng.

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