The tradition of Yu Sheng or Lo Hei originated from the phrase’s Cantonese meaning of ‘tossing up good fortune’ using raw fish salad symbolising an ‘abundance of wealth and long life’. Made up of white and green radish, carrots, capsicum, turnips, red pickled ginger, slices of raw fish (commonly salmon), crackers, topped with the fragrant dressing of plum sauce, five-spice powder and sesame oil, the dish is usually served as an appetiser. What to say during Lo Hei? To help you with the best Chinese New Year auspicious phrases during Lo Hei check out this festive infographic.
Why Do We Lo Hei During Chinese New Year?
It is customary to gather your families and friends to toss the ingredients while saying auspicious well-wishes out loud to usher in good luck. Traditionally, Yusheng plays on the homonyms where “yu” 魚 means “fish” but enunciated appropriately, it also means 馀 “abundance”; and “sheng” 生 means literally “raw” but enunciated appropriately, it means “life”. Thus Yusheng implies “abundance of wealth and long life”.
In Cantonese it is known as “lo sheng” with “lo” 捞 also meaning “tossing up good fortune”. The tossing action is called “Lo Hei”, which means to “rise” (起 “hei”), again a reference to a thriving business and thus its popularity with businessmen during the New Year. Hence it is believed the higher you toss the ingredients in the salad, the greater your fortunes will be.
Before you get started on the Yusheng, you should offer sincere well-wishes such as 恭喜发财 “Gong Xi Fa Cai” meaning “Congratulations for your wealth” or 万事如意 “Wan shi ru yi” meaning “May all your wishes be fulfilled” to everyone at the table. Next, let’s embark on the 12 steps Lo Hei before we toss the good luck!
Here’s the simple step by step guide to make you look like a Lo Hei expert:
1. In goes the raw fish (生鱼, Sheng Yu)
年年有馀 “Nian Nian You Yu” symbolising abundance ‘excess’ through the new year
2. Put in the pomelo (柚子, You Zi)
大吉大利 “Da Ji Da Li” which means good fortunes and luck.
3. Sprinkle pepper & cinnamon powder (胡椒粉, Hu Jiao Fen)
招财进宝 “Zhao Cai Jin Bao” to attract more wealth and treasures. This step is a must for business lo hei.
4. Drizzle the oil (油, You)
You can either use “财原广进 “Cai Yuan Guang Jin” or 一本万利 “Yi Ben Wan Li” while circling the ingredients with the oil to increase all profits 10,000 times and encouraging money to flow in from all directions. Thrill your bosses with this step!
5. Throw in the carrots (红萝卜, Hong Luo Bo)
鸿运当头 “Hong Yun Dang Tou” which means good luck is right at our doorsteps.
6. Put in the shredded green radish (青萝卜, Qing Luo Bo)
青春常驻 “Qing Chun Chang Zhu” for eternal youth. Good to let the ladies have a go at this one.
7. Now goes the shredded white radish (白萝卜, Bai Luo Bo)
风生水起 “Feng Sheng Shui Qi” and 步步高升 “Bu Bu Gao Sheng” which means prosperity in business and promotion at work. This is for all the minions at work.
8. Dust finely chopped peanuts (花生粉, Hua Sheng Fen)
金银满屋 “Jin yin man wu” symbolises a household filled with gold and silver. As an icon of longevity, peanuts also symbolise eternal youth.
9. Sprinkle sesame seeds over quickly (芝麻, Zhi Ma)
生意兴隆 “Sheng Yi Xing Long” for a flourishing business.
10. Throw in Golden Crackers (薄脆饼干, Bo Cui Bing Gan)
遍地黄金 “Bian Di Huang Jin” for hope of riches that literally fill the whole floor with gold.
11. In flows the plum sauce (酸梅酱, Suan Mei Jiang)
甜甜蜜蜜 “Tian Tian Mi Mi” for sweet and loving relationships for everyone
12. Toss The Yusheng
Shout 发啊 “Huat Ah” and toss the salad for an auspicious 7 times for great luck and wealth in the new year.
There is also a trend of ordering Yu Sheng online and them delivered to your home or party venue. Other than Yu Sheng, many Singaporeans are also turning to popular food delivery services such as FoodPanda for a hassle-free gathering.
If the above is too complicated, you may like to use this slightly more simplified infographic version below!
We hope you find this post useful. Do share with your friends, relatives and colleagues for their Lo Hei sessions too! You may also like to check out my posts on other interesting social media topics here