12 Yee Sang Toss Steps for Chinese New Year Prosperity
Malaysians usher Chinese New Year prosperity with a colorful raw fish salad called Yee Sang Toss (Chinese: 魚生) or Prosperity Toss, “Loh Hey” (Cantonese for 撈起 or 捞起).
“Loh Hey” literally means to ‘move upwards’ and is symbolic for rising fortune for the forthcoming year.
Yee Sang is a popular festive dish eaten by the ethnic Chinese communities in Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia.
This fun and tasty dish is a raw salad symbolizing abundance, prosperity, and vigor.
Yee Sang (Prosperity Toss Salad) is one of the dishes Malaysian look forward to sharing with their family, friends and colleagues during the Chinese New Year Festivities.
Years ago, this special dish was only served in restaurants on the seventh day of the Chinese New Year.
The seventh day is also known as Universal Mankind’s Birthday.
Most families will eat out on that day and enjoy Yee Sang with a Prosperity Toss at the restaurants.
Nowadays, most Chinese restaurants have replaced raw fish with raw salmon or smoked salmon.
The Significance of Yee Sang
Today, Yee Sang is readily available even before the festivities. There are pre-packed Yee Sang sold in hypermarkets that you could bring home to eat.
Nowadays Yee Sang is served on the eve of the Chinese New Year right through Chap Goh Mei (the fifteenth day of the Chinese New Year).
What does Yee Sang signify?
Yee Sang means “increase in abundance and vigor”.
Restaurants and Chefs have gotten more creative and now offer Pau Sang, with pau yee (abalone) which comes with a hefty price tag.
What does Pau Sang signify?
Pau Sang means “guaranteed abundance and vigor”.
Is eating Yee Sang a fun experience?
You must not miss out on an opportunity to join in a dinner with a Yee Sang Prosperity Toss. The experience is not to be missed.
It is a communal thing and most companies, groups of friends and family have a lot of fun with Yee Sang. The salad itself is delicious with the right balance of sweet, tangy, savory, and crunchy.
How do you toss it?
The fun part is the tossing of the salad. We believe that the higher and more vigorous the toss, the better the new year!
Get the kids to join in and teach them to call out the auspicious wishes for good luck!
How to eat a Yee Sang?
After all that hard work, everyone gets to enjoy a tasty plate or two of this salad to usher in the Chinese New Year.
There are 12 Steps Prosperity Yee Sang Toss for Chinese New Year for this Teochew-style raw fish salad with shredded vegetables, added nuts or crackers for crunch and topped with a variety of sauces.
Is Yee Sang a healthy dish?
Yee Sang which has a variety of veggies is healthy right?
If you take into account, the fats and sugars from the liberal use of fried flour crisps, sweet plum sauce, and oily sesame oil.
The short answer is, No.
What is the calorie in a store bought Yee Sang?
A 387g serving of store-bought Yee Sang will cost you over 500 calories.
Can I make my own Yee Sang?
By making Yee Sang at home, you can halve the calories.
What are the typical Yee Sang (raw fish salad) ingredients?
- Fresh salmon or tuna sashimi (buy sliced fish to avoid the hassle of having to cut it)
• White radish
• Pickled ginger
• Chinese parsley
• Fried Flour Crisps
How can I make a healthier Yee Sang?
Use fresh ingredients instead of the pickled or preserved ingredients.
Omit the deep-fried flour crisps.
How to Make a Vegetarian Yee Sang?
Just omit the salmon slices to make a vegetarian version of this dish.
What is the Yee Sang Ingredients?
Salmon slices (as desired)
80g Japanese cucumber, julienne
60g carrot, julienned
80g apple, julienned
60g white radish, julienne
80g honeydew, julienned
60g yam, julienne and toasted for 20 minutes at 160C till crispy
50g Mandarin orange
50g pomelo pulp
1 tsp. Olive oil.
Pinch of five-spice powder
Pinch of pepper
30g sesame seeds
30g pine nuts
How do I make Plum Sauce dressing?
The recipe is simple. For the Plum Sauce Dressing, just whisk together the ingredients:
⅓ cup Hoisin sauce (80ml)
⅓ cup apricot or plum jam (80ml)
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp water
1 tsp sesame oil
Can I replace the Plum Sauce?
You can replace the preserved plum sauce with fiber-rich fresh passion fruit pulp.
Here’s the recipe for Passion Fruit Yee Sang Dressing (Serves 5)
Pulp from 2 passion fruits
1 tbsp. Plum sauce
1 tbsp. Lime juice
2 tsps. honey
Can I make a Fruit Yee Sang?
Use your favorite fruits or vegetables for this fruit twist to the usual Chinese New Year Yee Sang salad.
How long does it take to make a Yee Sang at home?
Normally, the Prep Time takes most of the work to wash, clean, and cut the various raw ingredients. This can take up to 1 hour or more depending on the amount.
Since there is no real cooking except frying some flour and taro crisp, making the sauce and assembling the ingredients on a huge platter may take up to 30 mins.
So the Total Time is approximately 1 hr. 30 mins
How do I make the crispy bits?
I prefer to make the crispy bits where I can control the quality of oil used for frying.
You only need to buy wonton wrappers and cut this into strips for deep frying.
Shred taro (yam) coarsely using a grater. Divide shredded taro into two and color one portion red and the other green with vegetable coloring.
Heat about 1-inch depth vegetable oil in a frying pan. Deep fry the wonton wrappers and taro separately.
Remove with a metal strainer. Store the crispy bits in airtight containers. This will keep it fresh until you use it.
What are the other types of Yee Sang?
There are several different types of Yee Sang you can try. Most of the ingredient and condiments remain the same and as cuisine evolve with time, so will the ingredients.
The Fruit Yee Sang
This is the perfect type of Yee Sang for those of us who hate raw fish and won’t eat the shredded vegetables base. You can make an upgraded version of a fruit salad and use your favorite fruits and prepare it at home exactly according to your liking.
Use auspicious and “lucky” fruit cut to desired slices or shapes (example matchsticks, bite-sized pieces, halves or thin slices).
150 grams strawberries (use redder ones) sliced
2 kiwi skin removed; sliced
3 tbsp. pomegranate seeds
3 tbsp. pomelo sacs
2 mandarin oranges skin membrane from sac removed for better presentation
150 grams pineapple flesh sliced
Other suitable fruits suggestions:
- Whole seedless grapes
- Canned rambutan or Longan
- Dragon fruit
- Star fruit (cut to star shapes)
- Any sweet fruit that has a vibrant red, green or golden
For the dressing, use a fruity salad dressing or even a lemon lime Chinese plum sauce to taste with some sesame oil
If you have a nut allergy, you can leave out the toasted sesame seeds and finely chopped roasted peanuts
Vegetarian Yee Sang
As more people are going vegetarian or vegan, you may want to replace the raw fish with fried vegan tofu mock-fish sticks. You could actually make your own at home if you feel up selecting, buying, washing, drying and shredding your preferred vegetable.
The other option is to eat out at a Vegetarian Restaurant.
Luxurious Yee Sang
If you love seafood, this is the time to up your Yee Sang ingredients and replace the raw fish strips with Smoked Salmon, King Crabs, Lobsters, Clams and even Abalone!
Super high end restaurant serve this option. If you prefer a luxurious meal, just order with a good and reputable Chinese Restaurant, they will be able to order the ingredients for you if you can match the price.
Lazy Yee Sang
The fast food version is to order a pre-packed Yee Sang set or simply pick up a set from your nearest supermarket. These are super convenient, budget friendly and serves up to 10 – 12 people. In fact while you are there you could also pick up a traditional melamine ware Longevity Platter and chopsticks for you annual Loh hei.
Artistic Yee Sang
Perfect for the foodie with the moistest to impress. Instead of piling up a mound of shredded vegetable and dumping all the ingredients on top, these artistic Yee Sang are works of art to be admired.
Some fine dining restaurants serve Yee Sang as an individual plate for the guest.
What are the 12 Steps to a Yee Sang Toss?
When everyone is gathered around the dining table, everyone offers Chinese New Year greetings.
Favorable Wishes: “Gong Xi Fa Cai” means “Congratulations for your wealth” or “Wan shi ru yi” meaning “May all your wishes be fulfilled”.
It presents the Yee Sang platter. We add fish which symbolizes abundance or excess through the year.
Favorable Wishes: Nian Nian you yu 年年有馀, You yu you sheng Always have more than enough
We add the peeled pomelo pips over the fish, symbolizing added luck and auspicious value.
Favorable Wishes: 大吉大利 Da ji da li. Wish you good luck and good profits
We open the green and red paper packets of spices and sprinkle the Pepper and Cinnamon Powder over the ingredients hoping to attract money and valuables assets.
Pepper 招财进宝 (zhāo cái jìn bǎo) Attract wealth and receive treasures
Chinese 5-spice powder 五福臨門 (wǔ fú lín mén) May all good fortune be upon you and your family
We pour the bowl of oil out, circling the ingredients to increase all profits 10,000 times. This is to encourage money to flow in from all directions.
Favorable Wishes: Yi ben wan li and 财原广进 Cai yuan guang jin
Peanut oil 家肥屋嫩 (jiā féi wū nèn) Prosperity and harmony at home
Sesame oil 财源广进 (cái yuán guǎng jìn) May wealth pour in from all directions
We add carrots to the fish signifying blessings of good luck.
Carrots 鸿运当头 (hóng yùn dāng tóu) May good fortune be upon you
We place the shredded green radish on the fish symbolizing eternal youth.
Green radish 青春常驻 (qīng chūn cháng zhù) May you be youthful and vital always
We add the shredded white radish. This means prosperity in business and promotion at work.
White radish 风生水起 (fēng shēng shuǐ qǐ) May your success roar like the wind and waves
We dust chopped Peanut bits on the dish. This symbolizes a household filled with gold and silver. Peanuts symbolize eternal youth and are an icon of longevity.
Ground Peanut 金玉滿堂 (jīn yù mǎn táng) May your home be filled with wealth and treasure
Toss in Sesame Seeds. This symbolizes a flourishing business.
Favorable Wishes: 生意兴隆 Sheng yi xing long.
Deep-fried flour puffs in the shape of golden pillows are added with wishes that the whole floor would be filled with gold. For modern day version, you may find fried wanton skin strips and even crisps in the dish.
Fried Crisps 黄金满地 (huáng jīn mǎn de) May wealth and prosperity be everywhere
Everyone joins in and tosses the salad an auspicious 7 times with loud shouts of “lo hei” 捞起 and other auspicious Chinese New Year wishes.
Favorable Wishes: Lo hei 捞起 which is Cantonese for “tossing luck”.
All to toss up the prosperity toss 7 times and shouting auspicious phrases and wishes for prosperity.
Hotels and restaurants alike are in full gear to incorporating this year’s Chinese Zodiac sign, the Rat into the ‘Lo Hei’, for this annual gastronomical family tradition which is always a hit with the kids.
All that’s left to do is invite your family and friends over or celebrate in the office for a prosperity Yee Sang toss to good fortunes ahead.
Tell Smart Dory about your favourite Yee Sang in the comments below, and Gong Xi Fa Cai!