Yusheng meaning "raw fish" is a Chinese New Year dish, served traditionally on the seventh day of Chinese New Year or Ren Ri ("Everyman's Birthday"). It is a salad dish made of thin slices of raw fish and various spices, mixed with tossing actions by diners. A play on Chinese homonyms links the ingredients and tossing actions to prosperity and longevity, all adding to the good wishes for the new year.
It is believed that Yusheng has its origins in southern China. Legend has it that a young man and his girlfriend found themselves stranded by bad weather at a temple with nothing to eat but a carp they had caught. Chancing upon a bottle of vinegar, they added this to the stripped carp and found it quite appetising. St Mungo Museum of Religious
Today's colourful version of Yusheng and the practice of eating it on the seventh day of Chinese New Year appear to be unique to Malaysia and Singapore. Four local chefs are credited for developing Yusheng as we know it today. They named the dish "Lucky Raw Fish" and popularised it as a New Year delicacy.
Yu Sheng, Traditional Chinese new year salad
Arranged on a large serving plate, the colourful array of ingredients include raw fish, which is traditionally ikan parang or "mackerel", shredded green and white radish drained of liquid, shredded carrots adding a bright orange tinge to the dish, pickled ginger, crushed nuts and pomelo. The ingredients are topped with various condiments including deep-fried flour crisps, crushed peanuts, sesame seeds, cinnamon, pepper and other spices. All at the table would then jointly toss the salad with a generous portion of plum sauce and cooking oil to add sweetness and taste.
Rituals and Meanings
Yusheng is deemed auspicious because of its homonymic quality - yu means "fish" but enunciated appropriately, it also means "abundance", while sheng literally means "raw" but enunciated appropriately, it means "life". Yusheng implies "abundance of wealth and long life".