When Chinese New Year comes around in Malaysia and Singapore, one cannot escape the symbolic dish of Yu Sang. When I was a corporate banker in Kuala Lumpur (in my previous life), we would take our customers out for Yu Sang lunch, and Yu Sang dinner during CNY. If it was served for breakfast, we would have taken them out for Yu Sang breakfast, too! When I got home, my mom would ask “We have to have Yu Sang!” Yu Sang, Yu Sang everywhere!
In the Cantonese dialect, “Yu Sang” is literally translated as raw fish. The words sound like the words for “abundance and growth”. This dish is also sometimes referred to as “Lo Hei” which sounds like “growth in business undertaking”. So when we do the “Yu Sang”, we are wishing our colleagues, friends and family, at the start of a new year, lots of prosperity, good luck and good business.
PS: Don’t forget the red packet!
Chef’s tip: To create the beautiful vegetable julienne spirals, use a Benriner Japanese spiral mandoline.
Special equipment needed A Japanese mandolin/ vegetable shredder
2 cups medium sized carrots
2 cups large white radish/ daikon
1 cup of small green papaya*
1 cup of spring onions
1 cup of cilantro leaves
½ cup pickled shallots*
½ cup of pickled ginger
1 pomelo or 1 grapefruit
½ lb fresh ahi tuna – sashimi grade
1 cup of Asian plum sauce* (Lee Kum Kee brand)
½ cup of grapeseed oil or other mild flavored oil
½ cup of roasted peanuts, crushed
1 tablespoon black sesame seeds, toasted
1 tablespoon white sesame seeds, toasted
1 tablespoon Asian 5 spice powder
6 pieces of wonton skin
1 cup of canola oil for frying
1 red envelope
Preparing the crunchy topping
1. Cut wonton skin into juliennes.
2. Heat oil in pan. Fry wonton skin till golden brown. Drain.
3. Roast peanuts in an oven 350F till golden brown. About 7 minutes.
4. Coarsely crush with a mortar and pestle.
5. Dry roast sesame seeds till fragrant.
Preparing the vegetables and fish
6. Shred all vegetables into thin long strips using a Japanese mandolin.
7. Cut scallions into 2 inch long juliennes, and then slice lengthwise thinly. Soak in cold water 10 minutes, then drain.
8. Slice pickled shallots and pickled ginger finely. Remove tough stems from cilantro.
9. Remove skin and membranes from pomelo to obtain the fruit sac.
10. Arrange all vegetables on a large platter in a circle, taking care to alternate colors.
11. Slice fish about ¼ X 2 x 1 inch and place in the middle.
12. Just prior to serving, drizzle with oil and plum dressing
13. Sprinkle on peanuts, sesame seeds, wonton skin crisps
14. At the table, sprinkle Asian 5 spice (served out of the red envelope).
15. Squeeze lime over fish.
16. Toss for good luck
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