YUSHENG, or raw fish salad, has gone
from a humble dish eaten by fisherman in Guangzhou, China, to being a
Chinese New Year delicacy here.
The dish brings family and friends together as they lo hei, or toss the
salad, for good fortune and success. It is traditionally eaten on the
seventh day of the lunar new year, which is said to be the birthday of
Mr Hooi Kok Wai, 70, founder of Dragon Phoenix Restaurant in River
Valley Road, says yusheng, as it was eaten here in the early 1900s,
comprised raw fish and slices of cucumber, radish and coriander. It was
served with bottles of vinegar, oil and sugar, which diners would use to
flavour the dish.
Mr Hooi and three friends, chefs Sin Leong, the late Tham Mui Kai and
the late Lau Yeok Pui, however, decided to spice up the plain-looking dish
'In the 1960s, most families ate their reunion dinners at home. To lure
them to the restaurants, we came up with the idea of selling a more
festive-looking and elaborate yusheng,' says Mr Hooi.
More than 10 colourful ingredients were added to the salad including
red pickled ginger, carrots and sun-dried oranges. The dressing was also
replaced with plum sauce.
The revamped yusheng quickly became a crowd-pleaser and, these days,
chefs continue to come up with new flavours to entice diners. Some go as
far as offering yusheng that do not contain raw fish.
Chef Chan Sung Og, 52, executive chef of Prima Tower Revolving
Restaurant, for example, is introducing a braised pig's trotter yusheng.
On why he chose to replace the raw fish with pig's trotters, he says:
'This version was created for those who don't eat raw food. Also, pig's
trotters are said to bring good fortune.'
LifeStyle highlights eight newfangled yusheng:
Cost: $68 (four persons)
This cobia fish yusheng is topped with a generous serving of imperial
swiftlet bird's nest, which makes the already healthy salad dish more
KURIYA JAPANESE RESTAURANT
1 Scotts Road, 05-01 Shaw Centre,
Cost: From $38.80 (one to two persons) to $88.80 (5 to 6
This yusheng is given a Japanese twist with salmon, amberjack and sea
bream sashimi as well as prawns, salmon roe and flying fish roe. A
sprinkling of gold dust tops off the dish.
HUA TING RESTAURANT
442 Orchard Road, Orchard Hotel, Tel:
Cost: $58 (small) and $108 (large)
This Italian parma ham yusheng (left), inspired by the pairing of parma
ham and cantaloupe, introduces a smoky saltiness to the usually sweet and
Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel, 392 Havelock Road,
Cost: $48.88 (four to six persons) and $68.88 (Eight to 10
Arugula leaves, dried apricots, pine nuts, artichokes, olives and
tomato chips are some of the ingredients in this Italian seabass salad
(right). It comes dressed in extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar
rather than the traditional plum sauce.
176 Orchard Road, B2-101, The Centrepoint, Tel:
Cost: $38.80 (Eight to 10 persons)
This salmon yusheng (left) uses only organic vegetables including
butterhead lettuce and red coral lettuce. It also uses a fruit juice-based
sauce made of mandarin oranges, lime and honey.
PINE COURT CHINESE RESTAURANT
333 Orchard Road, Meritus
Mandarin, Tel: 6831-6262
Cost: $88 (small) and $168 (large)
Yusheng scales a new high with this shark's fin version that comes with
an XO brandy sauce. Other ingredients include snow pear, bonito flakes and
7 Raffles Avenue, The Ritz Carlton, Millenia,
Cost: $65 (small) and $130 (large)
If you're looking for something decadent, this caviar yusheng is it. It
comes with three types of caviar - bottarga or cured tuna roe, avruga or
sturgeon roe, and tobiko or flying fish roe.
PRIMA TOWER REVOLVING RESTAURANT
201 Keppel Road, Tel: 6272-8822
Cost: $48 (small), $68 (medium) and $88 (large)
There are no raw surprises here, only slow-braised pig's trotter and
crunchy jellyfish in this yusheng.