Chinese New Year is around the corner, literally, and I wanted to eat yusheng, a vegetable appetiser dish with raw fish, usually eaten slightly before or during the fifteen days of Chinese New Year. We decided to have it at a Japanese restaurant which has been serving yusheng since they first opened. We were also mindful of the cost as we did not want to pay too much for a dish where the most expensive item was the raw fish. Our choice of Japanese restaurant was also because they were used to serving raw fish and hence, there was less anxiety over the freshness of the fish. Whenever I ate raw fish at a Chinese restaurant before, I wondered how they kept the fish fresh as that was the only time in the year that they served raw fish. I thought this even when I was growing up and had not been introduced to Japanese food then (as it was not as common as now) though I’ve never had a case of food poisoning all these years. The choice of raw fish has also changed over the years. Nowadays, it is predominantly salmon that is used.
Yusheng is a dish that is eaten mainly in Malaysia and Singapore. Both countries claim to be the first to create the dish, and both serve the dish equally well. Today, there are different and more healthier derivations of the dish. Each element in the dish has a meaning to it and it has to be mixed in, in a certain order as well. There are several websites on the internet which explain the meaning behind the choice of ingredients and what to say when you are placing the secondary ingredients into the dish, so I won’t do that here. After all the ingredients have been added in, goodwill and prosperity wishes are uttered as the salad is tossed by all those who are eating it. The wishes can range from hoping for a better job, to good health, to good academic results or success at one’s endeavours to even striking the lottery!
For a dish that is rather inexpensive to make, the quality of this dish has declined in some places as restaurants cut costs in order to retain their profits and bottom line. Being served only once a year, I would have thought that restaurants would benefit more if they gave customers a good toss rather than be so mindful of their bottom line. After all, customers will return every year to the same restaurant for yusheng if it is value for money as well.
Happy New Year everyone! May you enjoy good health, find wealth and especially Peace for your souls this year! May you prosper physically, emotionally, financially and spiritually as your soul prospers! I’ll be writing about Chinese New Year goodies and practices over the next 15 days, so stay tuned.
Sakae Sushi, 9 Bishan Place, #B1-19/20 Junction 8 Shopping Centre. Tel: 62590672.