Saturday, February 20, 2010


The seventh day of the Chinese New Year (20th February for 2010) is called "yan yat" or "riren" which translates to "everybody's birthday". It is the universal birthday of man, everyone is one year older.

On this day it is tradition to toss "yee sang" - a toss for prosperity, good health, happiness, success, great business deals, good husbands and did I miss anything else?

"Yee sang" or raw fish consists of extremely thin slices of raw fish (salmon, tuna or jelly fish, abalone and prawns) mixed with finely shreded raw carrots, white raddish, pickle cucumber, papaya, ginger, garlic, pomelo, dried winter melon and crackers. It is topped with fried peanuts, seame seeds, spices and different sauces (sour plum sauce, Thai chilli plum sauce). The raw fish is mixed well with the other ingredients, you cannot taste the raw texture at all.

For the uninitiated, the dish now does come with cooked fish and has even gone vegetarian. All the ingredients are packed into small separate containers. The dish is colourful and each ingredient symbolises a different value - peanuts and sesame seeds for harvest, pamelo and the carrot for luck, fish for abundance.
The ingredients are then place onto a hugh dish for tossing, I used a baking tray this year.
The peanuts and sesame are placed last on the top of the other raw vegetables.
Every one grabs a pair of chop sticks and lifts up the ingredients and let them drop back into the dish again while saying "lou hei, lou hei" (lift up prosperity and fortune). The believers will of course lift up the ingredients so high. We keep lifting till the ingredients are properly mixed. It is exactly the same as tossing a salad except that in "yee sang," as many as 10 people or more toss the same salad together from one plate while shouting "lou hei!"
My family likes to toss to great heights that defy gravity in the hope for more luck. MartianGirl alway stands on her chair to compete with the adults. Whatever that falls on the table is returned to the dish and whatever that falls on the floor belongs to Demon K9. Although he does escape with some from the table too.

The dish is then distributed to everyone to eat before the main meal is served. Yes, Demon K9 gets his share in his doggie bowl. After all dogs need luck too. As everyone is so busy with family and work, we toss "yee san" during the reunion dinner on the first day when all of us are together instead of on the seventh day. Some of my friends toss to prosperity with all their friends, they actually do the "lou hei" five or more times with different groups. When it comes to luck, everyone wants more and more...
Good Luck and fortune to everyone for the Tiger year.