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The Art of Yu Sheng

The Art of Yu Sheng

Chinese New Year is round the corner. In Penang as well as many parts of Malaysia, this is one of the most exciting time of the year. Streets will be decorated with red lanterns, loud music played in shops.

Chinese New Year is round the corner. In Penang as well as many parts of Malaysia, this is one of the most exciting time of the year. Streets will be decorated with red lanterns, loud music played in shops. You can find street food vendors along the streets or in local markets selling Chinese New Year goodies such as peanut cookies, pineapple tarts etc. If you tour around Air Itam, be certain to make a trip down to Kek Lok Si Temple in the evening to be rewarded with a spectacular view of red lanterns decorating the area.

Traditionally, it is a time for everybody to travel back to their hometown to have a meal together on the eve of Chinese New Year, fondly also known as Reunion Dinner. In fact, people still practise this tradition, with lots of variety of delicious food on the table. One of the main dishes Chinese in Singapore and Malaysia often celebrate this festival with is Yu Sheng.

Yu Sheng also known as Prosperity Toss is a raw fish salad. It is a colourful dish, filled with different shredded vegetables, raw fish and sauces. Yu Sheng is translated literally as "raw fish". As the Chinese often associate fish with prosperity and abundance, thus this dish is considered a symbol of abundance and prosperity. Some of the colours that are represented by the food are:

Orange - Carrots, mandarin strips

Red - Pickled radish. ginger, capsicum

Green - Chinese parsley

Gold - Fish crackers, sauces

Usually, there is a leader among the diners who will be adding the fish crackers and then pouring the sauces into the base ingredients. While he is doing so, he will be saying aloud auspicious wishes as each ingredient is added. Afterwards, all the diners around the table will stand up and toss the ingredients together using their chopsticks and say the auspicious wishes aloud and enthusiastically. They believe that the higher they toss, the more good fortune will be given to them in this new year.