The Inbox

Auspicious dishes for wealth and longevity

Yu Sheng Salad

By Winnie Velasquez, VERA Files

As dragon and lion dancers usher in the Year of the Water Snake at around three in the afternoon Sunday, Feb 10, families and friends will gather to wish one another wealth, longevity, happiness and prosperity. And as cries of Gong Xi Fa Ca! rend the air, rituals steeped in centuries-old tradition will be observed around the city.

And food is the focal point of these ceremonies marking the start of the Lunar New Year also the onset of the Spring Festival. This celebratory feast of dishes deemed auspicious is shared to invoke blessings of good fortune, longevity, and good health on everyone who partake of it.

At Xin Tian Di, Crown Plaza Manila Galleria’s premier Chinese restaurant, Sam Lee, its executive Chinese chef has prepared eight essential auspicious dishes that will be rotated alongside the regular items on the menu until February 24. Among these are the Yu Sheng Salad, Braised African Abalone with Broccoli in Oyster Sauce, Tiger Prawns, Whole Fish, Braised Patatim with Sea Moss, Dried Scallop, Assorted Meat with Rice in Lotus Leaf, Dried Scallop, Dried Oyster, Nian Gao, Steamed Seafood dumpling with Shark’s Fin in Superior Stock, Sauteed Prawn Balls with XO Sauce, Deep Fried Crispy Tikoy, and Chocolate Buchi.

A Singaporean Chinese, Chef Lee says that the menu at Xin Tian Di is a fusion of East and West but done in the Chinese way. “Every year there is a standard dish in the Chinese New Year menu, the Yu Sheng Salad. Literally meaning raw fish, yusheng sounds like the Chinese word that means an increase in abundance. The Chinese living in Singapore and Malaysia love to eat this during the Chinese New Year because it is a symbol of abundance, prosperity, and good fortune.”

Chef Sam LeeThe Yu Sheng Salad is an Asian-style salad with various shredded vegetables and served with assorted toppings, a sweet plum sauce and slices of raw fish (usually salmon sashimi or mackerel). Each ingredient added is carefully chosen because there is a corresponding auspicious greeting with it.

Ingredients of the Yu Sheng salad consists of red items: carrot, red yam and red ginger; green items: cucumber and greem yam; white radish or daikon; pok chui crackers; pomelo; cinnamon powder; Chinese five-spice powder; plim sauce; crushed roasted peanuts; roasted sesame seeds; olive oil; white pepper powder; raw fish slices; and abalone slices.

There is a ritual that accompanies the Yu Sheng Salad, Chef Sam explains. An appetizer to raise “good luck” for the New Year, the ceremony known as lo hei or tossing the salad, it calls for all diners to gather in a circle and say a Chinese greeting when the salad is put on the table. This is followed by an auspicious greeting for each ingredient. The shredded ingredients are mixed together then diners take their chopsticks and toss the salad into the air while saying out loud their auspicious wishes to signal the start of a prosperous New Year. The higher the ingredients are tossed, the better to have those wishes granted, the chef adds.

Chef Sam says that for the Year of the Water Snake, he has prepared for diners at Xin Tian Di special dishes that will make their celebration meaningful and give them a different culinary adventure. He cites among these the Assorted Meat with Rice in Lotus Leaf. To lovers of Chinese food this is the familiar machang that is a staple is many Chinese and delis but Chef Sam gives it a festive twist. “The assorted meats for this dish – liver sausage, Chinese sausage, and preserved pork – are all ordered from a regular supplier in Hong Kong. This way, we can be sure that the dish is nhas just the right blend of flavors. It is believed that combining these three will bring good luck and the family will stay together through several generations,” he says.

TikoyThen to cap this sumptuous spread, the chef surprises diners with a wholly different preparation of two very common items in the Chinese menu: the ubiquitous tikoy and buchi. The tikoy is deep fried and crispy and comes with a hint of honey. “Usually tikoy is dipped in egg and fried so that it comes out oily and soggy, not a very good end to a fine meal. I decided to deep fry it and with its crispy coating it becomes something really special. And if diners are expecting buchi with its red munggo filling and and orange coating, they are in for a sweet surprise in our buchi with chocolate filling and a light brown coating,” Chef Sam says.

After partaking of the lavish Chinese New Year feast at Xin Tian Di and calling forth auspicious wishes for the New Year, visitors to the hotel can send blessings of good fortune to their loved ones and friends with the tikoy. Just like its other offerings, the tikoy at Crown Plaza is not the usual round glutinous sweet treat. Instead, it is colored and shaped like the Koi, another harbinger of good luck. Gong Xi Fa Ca!

(VERA Files is put out by veteran journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”)

Check out other interesting VERA Files stories:ñol-es-parte-la-cultura-filipina-132101655.html


Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Phl, Japan sign P9.6-B ODA projects
    Phl, Japan sign P9.6-B ODA projects

    The Philippines and Japan have signed agreements for six official development assistance (ODA) projects amounting to 22.289 billion yen or around P9.6 billion. Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario and Japanese Ambassador Kazuhide Ishikawa signed and exchanged notes on Thursday for four of the projects amounting to 2.789 billion yen or around P1.195 billion. …

  • Commission to launch glossary of Pinoy meteorological terms
    Commission to launch glossary of Pinoy meteorological terms

    The Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (KWF) will release a glossary of meteorological terms in Filipino to help the Filipino people better understand weather forecasts and instill disaster awareness among them. National Artist for Literature and KWF president Virgilio Almario said yesterday the KWF produced the glossary titled Patnubay sa Weder Forkast to simplify scientific terms used in the weather bulletins of the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration …

  • Divorce bill good scapegoat for couples – CBCP
    Divorce bill good scapegoat for couples – CBCP

    Contrary to what romance novel writers would want their readers to believe, there are no perfect marriages in the real world. This was according to Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) president Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas. In a statement titled “CBCP Position Against the Divorce Bill and Against the Decriminalization of Adultery and Concubinage,” Villegas said that while it is not easy to make relationships last, learning how to work out differences – and …

  • DND holds off infra dev’t in Pag-Asa
    DND holds off infra dev’t in Pag-Asa

    The defense department is holding off repairs and other planned infrastructure projects on Pag-Asa Island, one of seven islets and two reefs occupied by Filipino troops in the disputed Spratly Islands. Earlier, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario pointed out that the maintenance and repair of facilities in Pag-Asa Island are not covered by the Declaration of Conduct (DOC) of parties involved in the West Philippine Sea territorial disputes. “Repair and maintenance is okay but before …

  • Blackout to hit 5 Aurora towns
    Blackout to hit 5 Aurora towns

    An 11-hour power outage will hit five towns in Aurora on Tuesday, the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) announced yesterday. The NGCP said Baler, Dingalan, San Luis, Ma. Aurora and Dipaculao would be affected by the blackout. The NGCP said parts of Nueva Ecija and Aurora were hit by a power interruption yesterday due to the tripping of the Cabanatuan-Baler 69kV line. …

  • Rules set for climate change programs
    Rules set for climate change programs

    The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and the Climate Change Commission (CCC) have released the revised guidelines to track and monitor climate change adaptation programs of the government. “The government of the Philippines has demonstrated leadership and strong commitment in implementing a comprehensive reform agenda to respond to climate change,” read the joint memorandum circular published in The STAR yesterday. “With the goal of using the budget process to plan, prioritize and …

  • It’s time to move on– Speaker
    It’s time to move on– Speaker

    The nation can now move on as President Aquino has satisfactorily explained his side on the Mamasapano incident for which he even begged for understanding, lawmakers led by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said yesterday. “It’s time to move on,” Belmonte said in reaction to Aquino’s pronouncements made before new police graduates at the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA) last Thursday. The President has spoken far too much about what he knows and about his limited involvement in the …

  • ToyotaPH continues it’s strong sales in February
    ToyotaPH continues it’s strong sales in February

    Toyota Motor Philippines (TMP) sustains its strong sales in its February performance. Toyota’s strong performance last month was due to the  high demand of the Vios, with sales of 2,012 units and of course the rest of Toyota’s line up such as the Fortuner, Innova, Wigo, Hilux, Avanza and Corolla Altis. Toyota’s luxury brand, Lexus, recorded 60 units last month. …


Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Poll Choice Options