We all know what yusheng is. For years, it has been the same old boring ingredients. Yusheng, (or yee sang, lou sang, lou hei) is a traditional prosperity toss dish that the Chinese in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia have been enjoying every Chinese New Year since it was popularised in the 60s.
Yusheng, which literally means raw fish, is also a homophone for “an increase in abundance”. That is why many Chinese believe the act of tossing this mix to be prosperous.
The dish is typically made of shredded white and green radish and carrots, ginger slices, onion slices, crushed peanuts, pomelo, jellyfish, pepper, essence of chicken, oil, salt, vinegar, sugar and more. It is then topped off with raw salmon. There are normally about 27 similar variations of the ingredients in the dish.
Over the past few years, however, many restaurants have decided to step out of their comfort zones to try new ingredients for their yusheng.
Many have introduced fresh fruits and less sugary ingredients in their yusheng, citing health purposes. But some of them have gone all out to put their modern interpretation on the dish to showcase their creativity.
Here are the 8 most unique yusheng we have seen around the region this year:
1. Peanut Butter Vodka Yusheng
Whaaaaaat? Peanut butter AND vodka? AND yusheng, all in one? Yup. W1 in Kuala Lumpur makes one of the most unique yusheng of the season. Not only do they have an alcohol-spiked sauce to replace the boring old plum sauce, they also change it up by replacing the crispy crackers with deep fried seaweed.
2. Kimchi Yusheng
Traditions are thrown out the window when marrying Korean culture with Chinese. But we couldn’t be happier for this eclectic mix. Unsurprisingly, kimchi goes well with yusheng (since yusheng is already a raw dish). The sour and spicy taste profile of the kimchi gives the yusheng an elevated flavour, to make it the perfect appetiser this Chinese New Year. You can find this at any Palsaik Korean BBQ outlets in Malaysia.
3. Lobster Yusheng
Talk about a premium yusheng. This year, you can surely usher in an abundance of prosperity with a lobster yusheng at Pan Pacific Hotel Singapore’s Keyaki restaurant. They haven’t forgotten the raw fish in this one. The yusheng is generously laced with MULTIPLE types of sashimi AND topped off with lobster and sea urchin.
4. Yusheng with your… hands?
For those who like to get their hands dirty, this year Dancing Crab gives you a playful twist on yusheng. Toss your yusheng with salad greens such as spinach and lettuce, mixed with carrot strips, salmon slices and Alaskan king crab. Instead of the sweet plum sauce, you get a tangy honey mustard sauce here. And here’s the kicker, you use your hands to toss the yusheng.
5. Reconstructed Yusheng
As we all know, yusheng is a DE-constructed dish. But this restaurant RE-constructs your yusheng to give you a towering mix of unique elements. Mitzo in Singapore is giving its diners the option to try their yusheng, which is built into a beautiful, colourful structure and served with the chef’s homemade Chu Hou sauce.
The sauce is a blend of soybeans, garlic, sesame seeds and spices and mixed together in a cocktail shaker. The mixture is shaken then poured into a mix of veggies, Kanpachi kingfish, crispy salmon skin and lychee caviar.
6. 3D Yusheng
It isn’t going to come alive and start dancing… but Conrad Hotel’s Golden Peony 3D yusheng is sure to impress those who love this dish. It is a hearty portion that serves up to 30 people and is shaped to form a 3D dog! Of course, it is to remind everyone that we are now in the Year of the Dog.
7. Seashell Yusheng
Located at Gattopardo Ristorante di Mare, Chef Lino Sauro seamlessly infuses Italian finesse to the dish. Made with Japanese somen, chopped black truffles, salmon roe and more seafood than you can image, you will be treated to a load of Normandy oysters, Sicilian red prawns and Hokkaido scallops. What an indulgent way to celebrate the Lunar New Year.
8. Porky Yusheng
Typically meat is hardly introduced to yee sang, but when you run a meat-speciality restaurant, your diners would expect no less than the best meats in your yusheng. For Kuala Lumpur based restaurant Ante and Singapore based restaurant The Carvery, pork is an essential part of their establishments. As such, pork is the main attraction for their yusheng. Ante uses jamon iberico to replace the raw salmon, while The Carvery pulled pork and pairs it with Granny Smith apple strips and caramelised walnuts. Yum.
9. The Poke Bowl Yusheng
Head to Gourmet Carousel at Royal Plaza on Scotts to enjoy a poke bowl inspired yusheng. Their yusheng base is made with a hydroponic salad, papaya, mango, young coconut, potato and yam strips. Decadent mentaiko salmon cubes are their replacement for just plain old salmon. The final topping is crisp pineapple rings. The pineapple is dehydrated to give added flavour and texture. Isn’t it gorgeous?
Which of these unique yusheng will you be trying this Chinese New Year? Let us know in the comments!
Gong Xi Fa Cai! Read more Chinese New Year related stories below.