Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Lou Sang / Yee Sang (Tossed CNY Salad)

Malaysian CNY special, lou sang

Lou Sang is, as far as I'm told, NOT a Chinese traditional CNY dish. It is unique to the Chinese in West Malaysia and Singapore. My China Chinese friends and relatives have heard of the dish ("It's a Malaysian dish") but never eaten it until they came here. East Malaysians like me have not grown up eating it, and the few times I've eaten it are always in hotels and restaurants. As a result, I didn't like lou sang. I hated it in fact, because of the bright green and red colored deep-fried crisps and the overly-sweet dressing. Jo of A Feast however, swore by the goodness of home-made lou sang, and urged me to try making it once. This year, with relatives (we don't have many relatives here except for my siblings and my in-laws) visiting from China, I decided at the last minute to attempt this dish, for the meaning and the fun behind it.

Lou sang literally means "mixed or tossed raw". The word sang is very much an auspicious word in the New Year because it also sounds like 'alive' and the raw fish (usually salmon) represents the play on the word in this dish. The other ingredients are mostly vegetables that are finely cut, and crackers or crisps to give the crunch. It really is a salad, a la Chinese style.

To attack a lou sang, everybody gathers around the dish with a pair of chopsticks in hand and then dig into the salad, shouting good New Year phrases such as high ambitions, high luck and such, in reference to the strive for excellence during the New Year. The higher you toss, the higher your good luck so grab a stool and peak over everyone if you are desperately seeking luck.




This recipe was from Jo, but I've had to substitute some of the ingredients for convenience (used whatever I had) and because many were sold out. Despite that, my lou sang turned out very well, and now I am going to make this a must-do for my CNY celebrations. You really can substitute many of the ingredients, but the essential ones are pomelo, radish, crisps and raw fish. I added lettuce for the auspicious meaning this veg carries, as it is called sang choy, 'raw veg' which also sounds like 'alive veg'.The only ingredient I think would greatly improve the dish is taro crisps which is in Jo's recipe but not my dish because there weren't any taro KK. I think all were taken for making koe rou which is on nearly every table for CNY. I also forgot an essential ingredient: peanut nibs, which I was going to substitute with cashew nuts but at the last moment and in the chaos, I had totally forgotten about it. I did add the toasted sesame seeds just before tossing, phew.

Lou Sang/Yu Sang
Fresh sushi-grade salmon*
1 medium sized pomelo, separated into sacs
1 stalk of butter or Chinese lettuce, washed, pat dry & cut fine
2 carrots, shredded thinly & soaked in ice water
1 Chinese radish, shredded thinly & soaked in ice water
2 green mangoes, cut into fine strips
1 cup pickled papaya (get it from fruit stalls), in very thin strips
4 kaffir limes leaves, sliced very fine
1/2 cup spring onions, chopped cut or into fine strips
3 T cilantro, in short lengths
1 red chili, 0r 1/2 bell pepper, in thin strips
1-2 T young ginger, in very fine strips
5-7 pieces popiah/spring rolls wrapper, cut into 1cm x 3 cm strips and deep fried until crispy
a small taro, cut into thin strips and deep fried until crispy

*I used 3/4 kg, cut into thick slices

3 T plum sauce + 2 T hot water, sieved (omit & use more apricot jam if you don't have this)
1 T apricot jam
3 T lime juice
3 T honey
1 T sesame paste (I used peanut butter)
1 T sesame oil
1/2 t salt
--Put everything in a bottle and shake it like crazy. Adjust to your liking.

Topping: 3 T toasted sesame seeds
1/2 t 5-spice powder

--Put sesame seeds and 5-spice powder in a red packet

1. Arrange the various ingredients on a large (preferably round) platter, with the lettuce in the middle and the salmon on top of it.

2. Scatter the crisps on top and pour the dressing over. Finally, just when everybody can't wait to toss, sprinkle the contents of the red packet over the lou sang and start tossing and shouting your hopes and wishes!


T.S said...

this dish must be amazing - it looks like a feeding frenzy!

Rei said...

Gong Xi Fa Cai! Your Yu Sang looks so good! 'Sang Choy' also sounded like 生财 in Cantonese. Good thinking adding that!

Precious Pea said...

I shall carry this tradition to Melbourne..who knows?? I might be my rice bowl there. Hehehe..

Emily said...

Looks GOOD! for a first attempt and thanks for the recipe!

Agnes @ rB said...

That looks good!!! :D

We had that during our company CNY lunch at Port View Waterfront but not salmon.... some kind of raw white flesh fish...

TeaLady said...

Sounds like fun, Terri.

And sorry for leaving out 2nd son in last comment.

Is this the equivalent of an American FoodFite - but with good intentions. HeeHee

Anonymous said...

Wah, so many ingredients! Looks real good. Hope to try it next year.

Big Boys Oven said...

Ain't we obsess with Lou Sang? I do! Just like a good marriage!

LianneK said...

This is the first time I came across someone making Lou Sang from scratch. Good thing its you, and thanks for sharing. This shall be a keeper for me next year to share them with friends here :-)

Anonymous said...

Nothing beats home made lou sang.

Unknown said...

Hi Terri, your yu sheng looked really beautiful. I have been preparing yu sheng for the past two years from scratch and I have to agree that it is a must! But I have not heard of the pomelo part. Does the pomelo signifies anything?

Anonymous said...

What a fun and delicious tradition :)!

terri@adailyobsession said...

t:it was, n i only got the last bite :(

rei: :))

pp: making lao sang for a living?

emily:i think i overdid it. would be better if i had a bigger plate

agnes:really? port view so stingy.

tealady: yeah,, food fight is fun.

2nd son is very camera-shy. i did notice he's not in any of the pics..

r: try it for chap goh mei!

bb: yes, what a nice tradition n dish

lianne: can do it for chap goh mei!

siew: totally agree

johnathan: ?? but pomelo is a must; makes lao sang very tasty. pomelo n its leaves r considered some kind of amulet tt keeps away bad luck :)

sophie: yes, it is!

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