Everything You Need To Know About Yee Sang and Why It’s So Popular!
on 05-02-202110:18 AM - last edited on 17-02-202110:08 PM by Milkbox
1. Fish (Yu)
Fishing some major prosperity to the new year! To add a bit of ‘yu’ (which means surplus or prosperity) to the simple meal, they added fish (also called ‘yu’) hence the appearance of salmon or some form of seafood in the mix. Something to note is that the fish has to be raw, or 'sang' in Chinese, because 'sang' also means to grow and prosper! Who wouldn’t want prosperity in their upcoming year?
Here’s an extra fun fact, the phrase “Nian nian you yu” is a phrase used during the toss to wish everyone an abundant new year ahead! It’s a pun which means “every year there’s fish, every year there’s surplus.” It’s because the words “fish” and “surplus” sound similar (yu), and it’s tradition to not finish the fish dish on Chinese New Year’s Eve in hopes that in the upcoming year they will have a surplus in prosperity and wealth!
We can never leave out pomelo! Pomelo is added to bring in more luck and auspicious value to the new year, apart from giving some citrusy goodness to the Yee Sang! It is also believed that eating pomelos in a particular method called “sha you” (killing the pomelo) and taking off the Pomelo skin is known to repel negative energy and keep the evil spirits away. Go away, evil spirits!
If you didn’t know, the Cantonese term for papaya is ‘mog kua’. The word sounds very similar to the chinese word that means “the best returns''! The papaya is also a symbol of abundance. If you eat it, you’ll not only have the best returns in all your work and efforts but you’ll also be the best! All that’s left to say is- papa-yeah! Give us some!
4. White ginger
Ginger has always been a staple in Chinese cuisine, for its healing, medical and anti-bacterial purposes. Because yee sang is a raw vegetable salad eaten with raw fish, the ginger is added to give it a fresh taste to the dish as well as to cut through any of the other stronger ingredients. Besides that, who doesn’t love that little kick of zing that ginger gives you?
Carrots are bright orange and the colour that resembles gold. On a plate, carrots look like mountains of treasure. Surely this qualifies it to resemble blessings of good luck, and to whoever eats it, would signify good luck in their upcoming year! Go on, pick out all the carrots in the Yee Sang and eat em' up!
Shredded white radish is added to resemble prosperity in business and for promotions at work! It signifies ‘progress at a face pace’ and ‘to reach higher levels with each step’! Besides that, it also fattens up the whole salad, radishes make up the biggest part of yee sang because it is one of the cheapest and most easily attainable root vegetables in “winter” when CNY is celebrated. Turnip is also a popular replacement.
7. Pok Hui crackers
If you’ve ever eaten Yee Sang, these crackers are known to be the most addictive part of the dish! Apart from vegetables, extra ingredients are often sprinkled on top before the “lou”. These add texture and extra flavour! These crackers are symbolic of the gold bars and taels from the olden days, thanks to their golden brown colour. Their sprinkling is likened to having gold spilling all over the ground so you’ll always have money in your home. Don’t hold back on the crackers, sprinkle them everywhere!
8. Toppings (A.K.A dressing and sauces)
Peanuts are added not only for the nutty crunch, but it also signifies being blessed with many children in the future! As for the sweet plum sauce, since Yee Sang has to be sweet- this addition is a sweet welcome to the new year! Vegetable oil is said to bring in auspiciousness, and as for the 5 spice powder, it resembles the 5 branches of happiness- kindness, wealth, health, family and happy endings! Lastly, the limes symbolizes endless luck coming your way!
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