by A Total TaiTai Tale
With a little bit of delay here’s a little explanation of a tradition with added to our Chinese New Year tradition (We did eat Jiaozi on CNY day for good fortune)
We actually never heard of Yu Sheng in Beijing. They do eat 魚 – yu (fish) to bring 馀 “abundance” but we never knew of this one.
Dear hubby did the whole ritual and said it in Chinese but knowing how easy it is to mispronounce a word and having it mean something totally different I’m not sure what the new year will bring us 😉
The tradition of Yu Sheng or Lo Hei originated from the phrase’s Cantonese meaning of ‘tossing up good fortune’ using raw fish salad which symbolises an ‘abundance of wealth and long life’. Made up of white and green radish, carrots, capsicum, turnips, red pickled ginger, slices of raw fish (commonly salmon), crackers, topped with the fragrant dressing of plum sauce, five-spice powder, sesame oil, this dish is usually served as an appetiser.
It is customary to gather your families and friends to toss the ingredients while saying auspicious well-wishes out loud to usher in good luck. Traditionally, Yusheng plays on the homonyms where “yu” 魚 means “fish” but enunciated appropriately, it also means 馀 “abundance”; and “sheng” 生 means literally “raw” but enunciated appropriately, it means “life”. Thus Yusheng implies “abundance of wealth and long life”
Here’s the simple step by step guide:
1. In goes the raw fish (生鱼, Sheng Yu) 年年有馀 “Nian Nian You Yu” symbolising abundance ‘excess’ through the new year
2. Put in the pomelo (柚子, You Zi) 大吉大利 “Da Ji Da Li” which means good fortunes and luck.
3. Sprinkle pepper & cinnamon powder (胡椒粉, Hu Jiao Fen) 招财进宝 “Zhao Cai Jin Bao” to attract more wealth and treasures. This step is a must for business lo hei.
4. Drizzle the oil (油, You) You can either use “财原广进 “Cai Yuan Guang Jin” or 一本万利 “Yi Ben Wan Li” while circling the ingredients with the oil to increase all profits 10,000 times and encouraging money to flow in from all directions. Thrill your bosses with this step!
5. Throw in the carrots (红萝卜, Hong Luo Bo) 鸿运当头 “Hong Yun Dang Tou” which means good luck is right at our doorsteps.
6. Put in the shredded green radish (青萝卜, Qing Luo Bo) 青春常驻 “Qing Chun Chang Zhu” for eternal youth. Good to let the ladies have a go at this one.
7. Now goes the shredded white radish (白萝卜, Bai Luo Bo) 风生水起 “Feng Sheng Shui Qi” and 步步高升 “Bu Bu Gao Sheng” which means prosperity in business and promotion at work. This is for all the minions at work.
8. Dust finely chopped peanuts (花生粉, Hua Sheng Fen) 金银满屋 “Jin yin man wu” symbolises a household filled with gold and silver. As an icon of longevity, peanuts also symbolise eternal youth.
9. Sprinkle sesame seeds over quickly (芝麻, Zhi Ma) 生意兴隆 “Sheng Yi Xing Long” for a flourishing business.
10. Throw in Golden Crackers (薄脆饼干, Bo Cui Bing Gan) 遍地黄金 “Bian Di Huang Jin” for hope of riches that literally fill the whole floor with gold.
11. In flows the plum sauce (酸梅酱, Suan Mei Jiang) 甜甜蜜蜜 “Tian Tian Mi Mi” for sweet and loving relationships for everyone
12. Toss The Yusheng Shout 发啊 “Huat Ah” and toss the salad for an auspicious 7 times for great luck and wealth in the new year.