During the traditional Lunar New Year, this is the most favorite dish of the Chinese in Malaysia and Singapore. Yu sheng in Chinese means abundance, so it symbolizes good things, good luck and prosperity will come in the New Year.
Enjoying yu sheng in New Year is a Chinese custom in Malaysia and Singapore, but is not common in China because those who created this dish are immigrants to Malaysia.
This dish was invented in 1920s by the Cantonese community in Malaysia, namely are chefs Tham Mui Kai, Lau Yeok Pui, Sin Leong and Hooi Kok Wai. They had been colleagues at a Singpapore restaurant before.
Yu sheng, also called lou shang, yee shang, yuu sahng or lo hei, is a kind of Asian salad, containing many kinds of vegetable and sliced raw fish, most commonly salmon. Each food has different meanings, symbolizing the good things they wish for New Year.
The Malaysian people explain the abundance of yu sheng: adding pomelo to fish for extra luck and abundance, adding carrot to wish for good luck, adding radish, cucumber means ageless, promotion, adding pepper and other ingredients to attract money and wealth.
After that, sauce will be poured onto to increase the benefits.
The toppings added before serving includes: peanuts sprinkled onto symbolize gold all over house, sesame symbolizes promotion, pillow-shaped fried flour symbolizes golden pillow with blessing gold would fill the floor.
Today, this dish is often used as an appetizer to bring wealth and luck for the New Year. It is often eaten for 15 first days of New Year, especially the 7th day, also known as “Renri”, which means “birthday of everyone”.
Many people also have yu sheng for the family reunion dinner at the New Year’s Eve. Every family members will sit around a table and wishing others good fortune, good luck. After that, they use chopsticks to toss yu sheng 7 times and shout “Lo hei” (good luck) with New Year prosperity wishes.
Chinese people in Malaysia believe that the higher they can toss yu sheng, the more luck in the year.