Monday, July 23, 2007

Yu Sheng - 鱼生 (1)

Taken from Wikipedia

A Chinese-style raw fish salad. It usually consists of strips of raw fish, mixed with shredded vegetables and a variety of sauces and condiments, among other ingredients. Literally translated, "yusheng" means "raw fish", though it can also be taken to symbolise abundance, prosperity and vigor.

The delicacy was invented 1,500 years ago in southern Chinese coastal areas such as Chaozhou and Shantou, during the Song Dynasty. According to legend, a Chinese female deity known as Nuwa (女娲) created mankind from clay and mud on the seventh day of the first month of the Lunar New Year. From then on, this day was known as the "Birthday of Man". It is believed that the fishermen and seafarers of ancient Southern China were very observant of this myth. On this day, yusheng would be prepared in feasts or religious ceremonies, not just to commemorate the event but also to show respect to Nüwa.

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, many of these fishermen immigrated countries like Malaysia and Singapore in search of a better life. They brought this traditional dish along with them.

Now, in the 21st century, "Lo Hei" -- tossing yusheng -- is a Singaporean/Malaysian Chinese New Year custom for families and friends to gather around the table and, on cue, proceeding to toss the shredded ingredients into the air with chopsticks while saying auspicious wishes (吉祥话) out loud to mark the start of a prosperous new year.

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