Cookbook Profile

New Year Fish Salad

Yu Sheng
Serves 4 to 6


A Winning Toss

Besides being full of flavors and textures, yu sheng is loaded with symbolic meaning. The raw ingredients signify the renewal of life, and the sound of the word for fish in Cantonese sounds like the word for prosperity. The most important (and fun) part of eating yu sheng is the mixing together of the ingredients. To ensure good luck for the coming year, everyone calls out "Lo hei!"-which means "to mix it up" but also sounds like "to prosper more and more"-while they use their chopsticks to toss the ingredients as high in the air as they can. Now that's what I call a well-tossed salad!

No Chinese New Year feast is complete without yu sheng, the colorful salad of raw fish and crunchy vegetables. It's served in most Singaporean Chinese restaurants throughout the lunar new year celebration. In recent years, the ingredients have become increasingly elaborate and exotic, including jellyfish, preserved papaya, deep-fried yam sticks, pickled shallots, and more. You practically have to start making it a whole lunar year ahead of time! My version is light and flavorful and a lot easier to prepare. Use very fresh fish. As an alternative to salmon, tuna is also delicious prepared this way.


Salad Mixture
1/2 cantaloupe or 1/4 honeydew melon
1 grapefruit
1/4 cup thinly sliced sweet pickled ginger
1 medium carrot, shredded
3-inch wedge (1/4 lb.) jicama, shredded

3 to 4 tablespoons cooking oil
1 teaspoon sesame oil
3 tablespoons plum sauce

1 tablespoon sesame seeds
6 ounces salmon fillet
6 ounces firm white fish fillet, such as sea bass
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon cooking oil
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 cup chopped roasted peanuts
1 green onion, slivered


Getting Ready
Peel melon and cut into crescents. Segment grapefruit by cutting away the peel and white pith; cut and lift out segments. In a bowl, combine melon, grapefruit. ginger, carrot, and jicama.

Combine dressing ingredients in a small bowl.

Place sesame seed in a small frying pan over medium heat; cook, shaking pan continuously, until tightly browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Immediately remove from pan to cook.

Remove skin and any bones from fish. Thinly slice fish across the grain to make pieces about 1 by 2 inches. Fan slices on a serving platter, alternating pink and white fish. In a small bowl, combine lime juice, oil, and white pepper.


Drizzle lime juice mixture over fish. Mound salad mixture in center of fish. Spoon dressing over the salad. Garnish with peanuts, sesame seed, and green onion.


Martin Yan's Asia
Favorite Recipes from Hong Kong, Singapore,
Malaysia, the Philippines, and Japan

By Martin Yan
KQED Books & Tapes
Paperback, $19.95
Color pictures throughout
ISBN: 0-912333-32-4
Recipe Reprinted by permission.


Martin Yan's Asia



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This page created February 1999