How to “Lao Yu Sheng” Like a Pro this Chinese New Year
Woah … We’ve just greeted 2017 three weeks ago. Yet, in about a week’s time, we will be having our annual reunion dinner with our loved ones to welcome the Lunar New Year! Are all of you prepared for this festivity yet? There’s so much to do, from prepping your wardrobe, to spring-cleaning the house, to loading up on festive goodies, to planning what dishes to cook or where to have your reunion dinner … Not to forget, deciding on where to purchase the star of every reunion meal – “Yu Sheng (Lou Hei)” – which consists of raw fish, shredded vegetables, condiments and different sauces.
Evolution of Yu Sheng
Yu Sheng has been a traditional dish eaten by the Cantonese on the 7th day of Chinese New Year to celebrate Ren Ri – the day 女媧 (Nu Wa), a goddess, created human beings in Chinese mythology. This dish originated from Jiangmen/Shunde region, before our migrant forefathers brought the practice over to Malaysia and Singapore.
At that time, the way Yu Sheng was served was unhygienic as the fish was often left out in the open. So, the Four Heavenly Kings of Cantonese Cuisine decided to improve the recipe. They served sliced fish instead, and standardised the sauce. The most significant thing the chefs did was to add colourful condiments to make the dish more festive. However, the part on people standing up to toss Yu Sheng together and “shouting” CNY blessings only came about serendipitously over the years.
How to Lao Yu Sheng
Waiters and waitresses at restaurants are very particular about the way Yu Sheng is presented and served. Usually, they hold out a particular ingredient and say something auspicious. It’s actually a really simple process. Follow these 8 steps and toss to good fortune this CNY!
Step 1: When placing the Yu Sheng on the table, say 恭喜发财 (Gong Xi Fa Cai) and 万事如意 (Wan Shi Ru Yi), which means to be prosperous and to have a lot of money, and that all your wishes will be fulfilled and may everything you do be smooth-sailing.
Step 2: Add lime juice or pomelo and say 大吉大利 (Da Ji Da Li), which means good luck and great prosperity.
Step 3: Add raw fish and say 年年有余 (Nian Nian You Yu), which means abundance throughout the year.
Step 4: Sprinkle pepper, cinnamon or five-spice powder powder and say 鸿运当头 (Hong Yun Dang Tou) or 招財進寶 (Zhao Cai Jin Bao), which means good luck is approaching and may you attract wealth and treasures. You can also say 步步高升 (Bu Bu Gao Sheng), which means to progress at a fast pace.
Step 5: Sprinkle golden peanut powder or sesame powder and say 生意兴隆 (Sheng Yi Xing Long) or 金银满屋 (Jin Yin Man Wu), which means the flourishing of your business and the filling of your house with gold and silver.
Step 6: Pour oil and say 一本万利 (Yi Ben Wan Li) and 财源广进 (Cai Yuan Guang Jin), which means that you will enjoy a ten thousand-fold profit from your investments and that you will be blessed with many sources of wealth.
Step 7: Pour plum sauce and say 甜甜蜜蜜 (Tian Tian Mi Mi) to sweeten your life.
Step 8: Throw in the crackers (deep-fried flour crisps) and say 满地黄金 (Man Di Huang Jin), to signify the floor being covered with gold, and for you to obtain abundant wealth.
Finally, exclaim “HUAT AHHHHHHHHHHHH” at the top of your voice while tossing the Yu Sheng in the air – the higher the better! May everyone see their fortune rise higher with each toss!