For Chinese New Year, there is a rather recently adopted tradition of eating a mixed raw fish salad, known as the Prosperity Toss, or Yeesang (read more about it here.) It is served as an appetizer, and it is quite detailed with every ingredient having a reason or symbol, like prosperity or happiness, depending on the colour (like red peppers) or how crushed peanuts looks like golden crumbs. The raw fish (in this case, the thinly sliced salmon) I was told that it represents pieces of gold. (Thank you kind and handsome waiter at Lai Po Heen.) You always have Yeesang with other people, and you use chopsticks to toss all ingredients together.
That’s me at the right – you can only see my hair! I was with my family and Uncle Fadhil. This is when we had Yeesang the last time I was back in Malaysia at Lai Po Heen, Mandarin Oriental.
This recipe that I have here is not authentic Yeesang. Most of the ingredients that I use can be found in Yeesang, but I have also added some banana blossom flowers, lemongrass, bean sprouts and to make it rather Greek, I also use for the dressing, good extra virgin olive oil. It is also quite similar to a local Malaysian salad that is known simply as kerabu.
You can find banana blossom flower at Asian stores. It is quite an exotic ingredient (even for me!) and you can read more about how to prepare this ingredient here. And if you are concerned about using raw fish, you can replace it with smoked salmon, but the salad will be slightly more salty, so reduce the soya sauce amount in the dressing.
Gong Xi Fa Cai, everyone! Happy Chinese New Year!
Ingredients: (appetizer for 4-6 people)
- 100g of carrots, shredded
- 100g of bean sprouts, cleaned
- 100g of cucumber, shredded
- 50g of red pepper, sliced into match sticks
- 50g of yellow pepper, sliced into match sticks
- 4 spring onions, shredded
- 100g of unripe papaya, cut into match sticks
- 100g of banana blossom flowers, sliced thinly (read about how to prepare it here)
- 200g of salmon, raw and sashimi-grade, thinly sliced. (or smoked salmon)
- 2 tbsps of finely chopped coriander
- 1 tbsp of finely chopped chilli
- 4 kaffir lime leaves, sliced thinly
- 100g of roasted peanuts, roughly crushed
- 75g of sesame seeds, toasted
- 1/2 tsp of freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp of five-spice powder (if you can find it. If unavailable, you can omit this)
Kerabu Crunch –
- 2 spring onions, sliced
- 3-4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
- 2 kaffir lime leaves, thinly sliced
- 3 stalks of lemongrass, thinly sliced
- vegetable oil, to fry
- 1 tbsp of soya sauce
- 1 tsp of fish sauce
- 2 tbsps of olive oil
- Juice from 1 lime
- 3 tbsps of Chinese plum sauce
- 1 tbsp of sesame oil
- If you want to have a proper Yeesang Chinese New Year Ceremony, the toss with chopsticks and all that jazz, you should arrange all the salad ingredients on a large platter, according to colour. Scatter the coriander, chilli, peanuts, spices and sesame seeds on top. If you want to serve the salad all mixed, then combine all the ingredients in a big bowl.
- Fry the kerabu crunch ingredients separately, starting with the lemongrass. Drain them onto a paper towel. Scatter on or combine with the salad too.
- In a bottle, combine all the salad dressing ingredients and shake thoroughly.
- Pour the dressing on the salad in a circular motion.
- Time to toss with chopsticks! Say auspicious things, wishing for good luck, happiness and prosperity for the coming year for everyone at the table. Or, if you are planning to serve the salad in the banana blossom leaves like in the picture below, just toss the dressing as normal, and serve.
- Gong Xi Fa Cai and enjoy!