The Yee Sang is a very symbolic dish to have during Chinese New Year (CNY), especially on the 7th day (chor 7) – which in the year of the Rabbit – is today!! According to Chinese tradition, this day is everyone’s birthday (yan-yat 人日). So, happy birthday to you…! However in modern days, the Yee sang is generally associated with CNY and many just consume this salad anyday during the 15-day festival.
The Yee Sang is a colorful mix of fresh shredded vegetables, glass noodles, some crackers and a few strips of raw fish with plum sauce-based dressing. The salad is tossed using chopsticks by a group of people, usually a family while saying out loud auspicious CNY greetings – this act is termed low-sang or low-hei associated with life, prosperity and good luck. That’s why it is especially special to have it on yan-yat (birthday – the day to celebrate life).
This is my first time ever preparing this dish. Back in Malaysia, boxes of ready made Yee Sang sets are abundant during CNY and most restaurants serve them as appertisers too. Therefore it never occurred to anyone to actually prepare this otherwise simple and very affordable salad.
What I used:
- Glass noodles
- Red food colouring
- Wanton pastry sheets
- Crushed cashew nuts
- Smoked salmon strips
- Plum sauce, lemon and sesami oil
To achieve a colourful salad, I used shredded carrots (orange), fresh lettuce from the garden (green), cooked glass noodles (white) and homemade pickled cabbage dyed with red food colouring. I soaked finely shredded raw cabbage overnight in a big bowl of boiling water added with a cup of rice vinegar and 2 tablespoons of sugar plus a teaspoon of red food colouring (or enough to achieve a bowl of deep red coloured vinegarette solution). For the fish, I have used a few thin strips of smoked salmon. I deep fried some vermicelli and wanton pastry sheets as crackers. The dressing was prepared by mixing 4 tablespoons of asian plum sauce, juice of one lemon and 2 teaspoons of sesami oil.
To serve, I arranged every colour nicely around a large round plate and broke pieces of vermicelli at the centre. Then I arrange the strips of fish on top of the vermicelli. Lastly, I broke the wanton pastry into bite size pieces and scatter them evenly on top and finish off with a generous sprinkle of crushed cashew nuts in the centre. Just before the low sang, the dressing was poured all over the salad.
I must say (and I am not trying to praise myself!) that this was the most amazing Yee Sang I have ever had in my life! It has a very good balance of fresh vegetables and crunchy crackers which goes perfectly with the refreshing sweet and sour dressing! Now I wouldn’t want to spend a dime on those lousy Yee Sang sets (which are packed only with artificially dyed crackers and zero fresh vegetables) anymore. Or pay to eat this at any restaurants when I can make it so much better at only a fraction of the price 🙂
Let’s low, low, low…!! (toss, toss toss…!!)