“Yee sang” is a widely popular contemporary Lunar New Year dish created several decades ago, first believed to have originated from Malaysia and Singapore and spreading to other Asian countries such as Hong Kong, Thailand and New York City’s Chinatown. Only available at restaurants during Lunar New Year, “yee sang” consists primarily of thin slices of raw fish (usually salmon), shredded vegetables (carrot, pickled radish, ginger) and topped off with deep-fried crispy strips of flour, pounded ground nuts and sesame seeds. The ingredients are neatly arranged on a round platter like an unmixed salad dish and are accompanied by separate bowls of raw fish, dressing, plus five-spice powder and pepper. Next comes the dressing (plum sauce and oil) which is poured over the dish followed by squeezing lime juice over the slivers of raw fish and mixing it together.
Four of us ordered the mini yee sang, which cost RM8.88 only.
Finally the fun begins; the ingredients are mixed together vigorously with chopsticks by Hayley, Yvonne, Lorita and myself at the table. While all this “food play” is taking place, we are also obliged to shout out “lo hei,” with the word “lo” meaning mix and “hei” being “to rise.”
This is a very auspicious act as it portends to financial and personal success where future ventures will hopefully “rise and reach high levels”. Moreover, we involved in the mixing will have a hand in future success!