Eating Yu Sheng during Chinese New Year has become a must-do activity for Chinese, especially Cantonese, in this region of Asia.
Yusheng (鱼生), also known as Lo Hei (捞起) is a Teochew-style raw fish salad. This dish is usually consists of slices of raw fish, mixed with shredded vegetables and a variety of sauces and condiments, among other ingredients. Yusheng literally means “raw fish” but since “fish (鱼)” in mandarin also sounds like “abundance (余)”, Yusheng (鱼生) is interpreted as a homophone (a word that is pronounced the same as another word but differs in meaning) for Yúshēng (余升), which means ever increasing abundance. Hence, it is considered to be a symbol of abundance, prosperity and vigor.
How did Yusheng come about?
Fishermen along the coast of Guangzhou traditionally celebrated Renri (人日), the seventh day of the Chinese New Year, by feasting on their catches. According to Wikipedia, in Malaya’s colonial past, migrants imported this tradition. Porridge stalls sold a raw fish dish which is believed to have originated in Jiangmen, Guangdong province that consisted of fish, turnip and carrot strips, which was served with condiments of oil, vinegar and sugar that were mixed in by customers.
Today’s colourful version of Yusheng and the practice of eating it is unique to Singapore and Malaysia. According to NLB’s Infopedia, the dish was created by 4 chefs known as the ‘4 Heavenly Culinary Kings of Singapore’ and was introduced during Chinese New Year in 1964. They named the dish “Lucky Raw Fish” and popularised it as a New Year delicacy.
According to traditions, tossing of Yu Sheng is usually on the 7th Day of the Lunar New Year, also know as Ren Ri (人日). However, people today eat it throughout the entire Chinese New Year period.
12 Steps to Lo Hei and Lou Hei Words To Say
Gather everyone around the table and let the Lou Hei begin!
Step 1: Offer New Year Greetings by everyone at the table
恭喜发财 Gong Xi Fa Cai
Meaning: Congratulations for your wealth
万事如意 Wan Shi Ru Yi
Meaning: May all your wishes be fulfilled
Step 2: Add Raw Fish (Yu Sheng 鱼生) – you may replace this with Abalone 鲍鱼
年年有余 Nian Nian You Yu
Meaning: Abundance and Surplus every year
Step 3: Add Pomelo shreds or lime
大吉大利 Da Ji Da Li
Meaning: Good luck and prosperity
Step 4: Sprinkle pepper and cinnamon powder
招财进宝 Zhao Cai Jin Bao
Meaning: Attract wealth and treasures
Step 5: Pour oil / plum juice in circles over the ingredients
一本万利 Yi Ben Wan Li
Meaning: May your investment return 10,000 times profit
财源广进 Cai Yuan Guang Jing
Meaning: Abundance of wealth and fortune
甜甜蜜蜜 Tian Tian Mi Mi
Meaning: May sweetness enters your life
Step 6: Add Shredded carrots
鸿运当头 Hong Yun Dang Tou
Meaning: Good luck is approaching
Step 7: Add shredded green radish
青春常在 Qing Chun Chang Zhai
Meaning: Forever young
Step 8: Add shredded white radish
风生水起 Feng Sheng Shui Qi
Meaning: progress at a fast pace and reach greater heights
步步高升 Bu Bu Gao Sheng
Meaning: prosperity in business and promotion at work
Step 9: Scatter chopped or crushed peanuts
金银满屋 Jin Yin Man Wu
Meaning: Gold and silver filled in a household.
Step 10: Sprinkle Sesame seeds
生意兴隆 Sheng Yi Xing Long
Meaning: Business flourish and prosper
Step 11: Add deep fried flour crisps
遍地黄金 Bian Di Huang Jin
Meaning: Whole floor would be filled with gold.
Step 12: Toss the Yu Sheng and shout “Huat ah!”
Here’s the fun part. Using your chopsticks, toss the Yu Sheng as high as you can for seven times (or more) shouting “Lo Hei” or “Huat Ah!” “发啊” and other auspicious new year wishes.