Since Chinese New Year is just one week away, I’ll take the opportunity to feature some festive recipes. I don’t follow most of the traditions of Chinese New Year as for the past few years I’ve been living in a country that does not list Chinese New Year as public holiday. Go Figure. In fact I’d usually be working, and grumbling away while Chinese all over the world eat drink and celebrate. However, one special meal with friends are usually indicated. It gives me a reason to make festive dishes such as Yee Sang, as featured today.
Yee Sang (Yu Sheng in Mandarin – 鱼生), or Lou Sang (捞生) is a Teochew style fish salad made popular in Singapore. The original versions were much simpler. Today, each ingredients used has its own special meaning, hence there’s no surprise that this dish is widely featured in every Chinese restaurants. There are even the Japanese variations too! Yee Sang is usually comsumed on the 7th day of Chinese New Year (人日）but most people now do it anytime during the 15 days or even before. Doesn’t hurt though since it’s highly auspicious anyway.
Although slightly time consuming, it’s so easy to make at home and does not cost much, depending on the amount and the type of fish you use. In the past raw mackerel was used but the Salmon version dominates now. Of course, there are also Abalone, Prawn and even Lobster versions, whichever tickles your fancy.
The last time I’ve made this I painstakingly julienned all the vegetables with a knife. That took me hours, my hands were screaming for a massage after. I have however invested in a Zigzag peeler (also called Thai Peeler) which made my job so much easier this year, reducing the prep time to just under 1 hour. Worth the effort, definitely. The colourful presentation never fails to impress the guests. Piece of art, I have to say.
And have I mentioned how good this tastes? Considering most of us will be feasting on CNY cookies, Ba Gwa (Dried Meat), various meat dishes, curries etc, this is almost guilt free.
200g Sashimi Grade Salmon, Sliced
1 radish, shredded
1 carrot, shredded
1 cucumber, shredded
Half a pomelo
About 10 sheets of Wanton skins, cut into smaller pieces and deep fried.
1 packet of Japanese pickle ginger
handful of Coriander to match amount of other veges.
1 tablespoon of sesame seeds, toasted
50g peanuts, toasted and crushed
200g plum sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tsp pepper
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon five-spice powder Pineapple and mango jam (because that’s the only jam I have, usually apricot jam is used)
Juice of half lemon
one teaspoon sesame seeds, toasted
Arrange everything on the plate carefully, I like to arrange the Salmon like a Rose. Reserving the sauce, fried wanton skin and crushed peanuts until ready to toss. When the guests are ready, stand up and toss the ingredients together with chopsticks. Don’t forget to yell out various auspicious wishes in any language you like, the higher you toss the ingredients the higher your wealth grows!
I was also told that it’s better to leave a little bit on the plate as it symbolizes leftover fortune.
This particular Yee Sang was served as part of a Pre-Chinese New Year pot luck dinner at my place. On the same night I also made Chap Chae, and Roast Pork. The long noodles symbolise longevity and the pork for strength and wealth.
I’ve posted a recipe for Chap Chae previously, but this version is slightly more authentic, with added Spring onions, baby spinach, finished with sesame seeds. I’ve also used just light soy sauce instead of dark (made that mistake last time).
The rolled pork loin was simply marinated with hoisin sauce, 5 spice powder, salt and pepper. The crackling made perfect by drying the skin thoroughly and salting it. We fought for the crackling and Frank nearly finished all the meat. It was a good party indeed.
So what dishes will you be cooking or eating this reunion dinner?