Raw Fish Salad aka Lo Hei Yue Sang (捞起魚生)
It is a popular Chinese practice in Singapore & Malaysia to toss raw fish salad during Chinese New Year. The tossing of the raw fish salad is called “lo hei” in Cantonese, meaning tossing up good fortune. For the traditionalists, the ritual is of particularly significance on the 7th day of the lunar new year when it is designated “everybody’s birthday”.
The basic ingredients of the raw fish salad aka Lo Hei Yue Sang are raw fish, carrot, radish, pomelo, roasted peanuts, toasted sesame seeds, white pepper & 5 spice powder, fried wonton skins and plum sauce dressing. Each of these ingredients has a special meaning assigned (through the use of homonyms). See below for the tossing sequence and meaning assigned to each of these ingredients.
INGREDIENTS (for 10 persons)
- 200g of sashimi grade (very fresh) salmon or tuna (sliced) *
- 2 cups of finely shredded daikon (white radish) *
- 2 cups of finely shredded carrot *
- 1 red pepper (capsicum), sliced thinly
- 2 cups of finely shredded cucumber
- 2 cups of finely shredded purple cabbage
- ½ cup pomelo flesh *
- 1 inch fresh ginger, shredded paper thin
- ¼ cup of finely shredded sweet pickled ginger
- 1 red chilli, finely sliced
- 7 fresh kaffir lime leaves, finely shredded
- 4 sprigs of fresh chinese parsley
- ¼ cup of chopped roasted peanuts *
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds *
- 1/2 cup of fried wonton skins (cut into short strips) *
- 1 teaspoon of five spice powder *
- 1 teaspoon of white pepper *
- Dressing: *
- 2/3 cup of plum sauce
- ½ cup of water
- 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
- 1/3 cup of sugar
- salt to taste
- Marinade for fish: (I don’t marinade my fish, preferring the fresh taste)
- 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon of sesame oil
- ¼ teaspoon of sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon of white pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon of five spice powder
- Juice of half lemon and salt to taste
1. In separate bowls, cover all finely shredded vegetable with cold water and set aside.
2. Make the dressing: Mix the plum sauce and water together. Heat oil over low heat and add the plum sauce, sugar and salt. Cook until sugar dissolves. Taste and adjust accordingly.
3. Mix the marinade ingredients together in a bowl. Add fish slices and mix. Place fish in a separate platter and cover with cling wrap & place in fridge.
4. Drain the vegetables, spin dry or use kitchen paper towel to remove excess water. Mound vegetable decoratively in a circle around the platter.
5. Place fresh ginger, pickled ginger, pomelo, kaffir lime leaf, parsley in inner circle, leaving the middle of the platter for the fish.
6. Place white pepper & 5 spice powder in a red packet, ready for use.
7. You are now ready for lohei. You can simply sprinkle peanuts, sesame seeds, wonton crisps, white pepper & 5 spice powder and dressing over the ingredients and start tossing & lifting the ingredients as high as possible.
Or you could follow the tossing order:
Step 1: All to gather at the table and offer New Year greetings.
Words: 恭喜发财 “Gong Xi Fa Cai” meaning “Congratulations for your wealth” or 万事如意 “Wan shi ru yi” meaning “May all your wishes be fulfilled”.
Step 2: Add the fish, symbolising abundance or excess through the year.
Words: 年年有馀 “Nian nian you yu”.
Step 3: Add the pomelo over the fish, adding both luck and auspicious value.
Words: 大吉大利 “Da ji da li”.
Step 4: Dash pepper & 5 spice powder over the ingredients in the hope of attracting more money and valuables.
Words: 招财进宝 “Zhao cai jin bao”.
Step 5: Pour the dressing, circling the ingredients to increase all profits 10,000 times and encouraging money to flow in from all directions.
Words: 一本 萬利 “Yi ben wan li” and 财原广进 “Cai yuan guang jin”.
Step 6: Add the carrots indicating blessings of good luck.
Words: 鴻運當-頭 “Hong yun dang tou”.
Step 7: Add green radish symbolising eternal youth.
Words: 青春常驻 “Qing chun chang zhu”.
Step 8: Add white radish for prosperity in business and promotion at work.
Words: 风山水起 “Feng sheng shui qi” and 步步高升 “Bu bu gao sheng”.
Step 9: Sprinkle roasted peanut symbolising a household filled with gold and silver. As an icon of longevity, peanuts also symbolise eternal youth.
Words: 金银满屋 “Jin yin man wu”.
Step 10: Add sesame seeds symbolising a flourishing business.
Words: 生意兴隆 “Sheng yi xing long”.
Step 11: Add fried wonton crisps with wishes that literally mean the whole floor would be filled with gold.
Words: 遍地黄金 “Bian di huang jin”.
Step 12: All to toss the salad an auspicious 7 times with loud shouts of “lo hei” 捞起 and other auspicious New Year wishes.
Words: 捞起 “lo Hei” is Cantonese for “tossing up good fortune”.
NB: Tossing order adapted from http://www.superfinefeline.com/2009/02/cny-how-to-lo-hei-yu-sheng-%E6%8D%9E%E8%B5%B7%E9%AD%9A%E7%94%9F.html