It’s that time of year again – red packets, red clothes, and… tossing yusheng (or lo hei if you’re Cantonese). Even those who celebrate CNY every year may not even know all the ingredients needed in a yusheng, let alone know exact phrase to utter while tossing them. Typically, they contain whole fish, noodles, raw fish salad, egg rolls, dumplings, Mandarin oranges, rice cakes, and sea moss. So here’s a simple guide to a tossing this complicated dish:
Each yusheng ingredient has its own special meaning. Whole fish symbolises abundance. Noodles symbolise longevity. Mandarin oranges bring sweetness, good luck and wealth. Rice cakes symbolise prosperity. Sea moss and dumplings symbolise wealth. Egg rolls are said to bring both wealth and fertility.
Before the tossing begins, the dish needs to be prepared, usually by one individual who adds the ingredients one by one in a specific order, while the reciting the wishes symbolised by the names of the ingredients used. To start with, wish everyone Gong Xi Fa Cai (恭喜发财) for a happy new year. Then add ingredients and wishes in this order:
1. Add raw fish = Nian Nian You Yu (年年有余)
“Yu” is a homonym meaning of “fish” and “excess”, signifying abundance throughout the year.
2. Add pomelo = Da Ji Da Li (大吉大利)
Greater luck and auspiciousness. It’s an optional ingredient.
3. Add pepper and cinnamon powder = Zhao Cai Jin Bao (招财进宝)
For greater wealth and treasures. This is also optional.
4. Add oil in circling motions = Cai Yuan Guang Jing (财源广进)
To symbolise that money is coming in from all directions.
5. Add carrots = Hong Yun Dang Tou (鸿运当头)
This means good luck is approaching
6. Add chopped peanuts = Jin Yin Man Wu (金银满屋)
To symbolise that your household will be filled with wealth.
7. Sprinkle sesame seeds = Sheng Yi Xing Long (生意兴隆)
To represent hope for a flourishing business.
8. Sprinkle golden crackers = Pian Di Huang Jin (遍地黄金)
To represent great wealth with a floor full of gold.
9. Add plum sauce = Tian Tian Mi Mi (甜甜蜜蜜)
To represent stronger ties with family and friends.
After all the ingredients are added, they are traditionally tossed together 7 times with shouts of “Lo Hei!” and other auspicious wishes. Tradition does state that each toss should be higher than the last one to symbolise that prosperity and good luck keeps increasing rather than decreasing or remaining the same.
At the end, your plate should look like this: