Updated: Jan 31
Yúshēng relies on the homophones “yú 鱼” which means “fish” and “yú 余” which means “abundance”; the second character “生 shēng” has two meanings: “raw” and “life”. Thus, Yúshēng is a salad of raw fish that brings "abundance of wealth and long life". The dish was an original creation by chefs in Singapore in 1960s.
How the Yúshēng ceremony takes place ?
Step 1: The guests exchange vows. Expression: 恭喜发财 Gōngxǐ fācái which means “Best Wishes! Best wishes for prosperity! ” or 万事如意 Wàn shì rú yī meaning “May all your wishes come true!”
Step 2: Place the raw fish in the middle of the dish, it is the first and main ingredient. It symbolizes abundance or even surplus. Expression: 年年有余 Nián nián yǒu yú - “Let there be a surplus throughout the year!”
Step 3: Grapefruit is added to the fish, it brings luck. Expression: 大吉大利 Dà jí dà lì - “Great luck and good fortune!”
Step 4: Pepper and cinnamon powder is put over the other ingredients in hopes of attracting more money and material goods. Expression: 招财进宝 Zhāo cái jìn bǎo - “Bring in fortune and treasure!”
Step 5: Oil is poured on the ingredients to increase profits 10,000 times and encourage money to flow in from all directions. Expression: 财源广进 Cáiyuán guǎng jìn - “Let fortune enter widely!”
Step 6: Carrots are added to the fish to bring good luck throughout the year. Expression: 红运当头 Hóng yùn dāng tóu “Red luck in the first place!”
Step 7: The shredded green radish is added symbolizing eternal youth. Expression: 青春常驻 Qīng chūn cháng zhù - “May youth always reside within you!”
Step 8: Add the grated white radish: this brings prosperity in business and promotion at work. Expression: 步步高升 Bù bù gāoshēng - “Let us rise in the hierarchy one step after another!”
Step 9: The grinded peanuts are thrown like powder on the dish symbolising a household full of gold and silver. As an icon of longevity, peanuts are also representative of eternal youth. Phrase: 金银满屋 Jīn yín mǎn wū - “Gold and silver fill the whole house!”
Step 10: Sesame seeds are sprinkled right away to show that business is booming. Expression: 生意兴隆 Shēngyì xīnglóng - “Prosperity in business!”
Step 11: Flour chips in the shape of gold cushions are then added with the meaning that the entire floor surface is covered with gold (“flour et floor”, the Anglo-Saxon influence in Singapore?) Expression: 遍地黄金 Biàn dì huáng jīn - “Gold everywhere!”
Step 12: Add the honey sauce to bring sweetness and warmth to interpersonal relationships. Expression: 甜甜蜜蜜 tiántián mìmì - “A lot of sweetness!”
Final step: Everyone mixes the ingredients by raising them as high as possible with their chopsticks while declaiming “捞起Lo hei” in order to fulfill all the wishes previously stated. “捞起 Lo hei”, a Cantonese term, means “to raise”, here to raise happiness and prosperity. In Singapore, all businessmen, companies and friends have the tradition to celebrate the Chinese New Year by organising the Yúshēng ceremony.