theboywhoatetheworld cooks: Yee Sang (‘Prosperity Toss’ salad)
It’s nearly Chinese New Year! Which can only mean one thing… Yee Sang season is here! Also known as Yu Sheng, this colourful and vibrant raw fish and shredded vegetable salad is a Chinese New Year tradition in itself in Malaysia and Singapore. A celebratory appetizer, it is typically served in the festive period leading up to the Lunar New Year and the following 15 day period.
In a jovial and often revelous ceremony known as ‘Lo Hei’ (literally meaning ‘to toss up one’s good fortune’ in Cantonese), families, friends and colleagues, – each armed with a pair of chopsticks – partake in the act of tossing and mixing the salad at a height to usher in a new year full of wealth, abundance and prosperity.
The finished product from one of our Supper Clubs last year (📷 by Michael from My Faces & Places)
Unfortunately, this festive dish isn’t the easiest to track down outside of Malaysia and Singapore. In London, only a small handful of Malaysian-Chinese and Singaporean restaurants serve it up. Here’s my simplified Yee Sang recipe for any of you looking to recreate it at home. Happy Lo-Hei-ing this Chinese New Year!
Ingredients (serves 6 – 8 as a shared starter)
For the salad:
- 2 carrots (150g), peeled & julienned
- 2 white turnips (150g), peeled & julienned
- 1 large cucumber (150g), deseeded & julienned
- 3 stalks of spring onion, julienned
- 3 tbsp red pickled ginger (available in the Japanese aisle of most Asian grocers)
- 1 pomelo – skinned & cut into small bite-sized segments (alternatively 2 small grapefruits)
- 150g sashimi grade raw salmon, cut into thin slices (use mild smoked salmon if you prefer the salmon cured)
- 9 wanton skins – deep-fried till golden brown then lightly crushed to bite-sized pieces
- 2 tbsp sesame seeds – toasted
- 2 tbsp roasted peanuts – crushed
For the sauce:
- 6 tbsp Chinese plum sauce
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- Juice of 1 lime
- 3 – 4 tbsp hot water
For the seasoning:
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 tsp 5-spice powder
- 1 tsp ground white pepper
- 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
- Combine the sauce ingredients together then season to taste with the various spices. Depending on the exact brand of Plum sauce (most are a thick, sticky, treacle like consistency out of jar), you may need to dilute it with about 3 – 4 tbsp hot water to achieve the desired consistency. The aim is to get a runny sauce that can still coat the back of spoon.
- Prepare the vegetables for the salad: Julienne the carrot, cucumber, turnip and spring onion into thin matchstick strips. The spring onion is best cut up by hand, but you can use a mandolin or food processor (with the shredder attachment) for the other vegetables. Keep the various components separate and arrange on a large platter with the pickled ginger, pomelo segments, salmon and crispy wanton garnish.
- Make sure everybody round the dinner table is ready with a pair of chopsticks. All that’s left to do is to pour the seasoned sauce over the salad, then get everybody to toss the salad with their chopticks together until everything is well combined.
A very happy & prosperous Lunar New Year in advance to you all!