With an array of colourful shredded vegetables, thinly sliced fish and scrumptious crackers – all lightly coated by a sweet, tangy plum sauce – this traditional Chinese New Year dish is super yummy and loved by all. But how much do you really know about Yu Sheng, and what the various ingredients and phrases mean?

You probably already know about the tossing of the dish’s ingredients: Known as “lou hei”, the 捞 “lou” and 起 “hei” literally mean “tossing up”. This action of tossing represents the tossing of good fortune, and the higher the toss, the greater the fortune.

But each ingredient also has its own special significance. Here’s a snapshot of what some of them symbolise, and what the accompanying sayings mean:

Ingredients Auspicious Wishes 
Raw Fish

年年有余 (nián nián yǒu yú)

Abundance throughout the year

余, which means “abundance”, is a homophone for 鱼, which is fish in Mandarin.

Lime or Pomelo

大吉大利 (dà jí dà lì)

Good luck and great prosperity

Pepper & Cinnamon Powder 

招财进宝 (zhāo cái jìn bǎo)

May you attract wealth and treasures

The use of spices symbolises prosperity and fortune. 

Carrot

鸿运当头 (hóng yùn dāng tóu)

Good luck is approaching

鸿, which means good luck, is a homophone for the colour red from carrot in Mandarin.

Green & White Radish 

青春常驻 (qīng chūn cháng zhù)

May you be forever young

青, which means youth, is a homophone for the colour green from ‘green’ radish in Mandarin.

步步高升 (bù bù gāo shēng)

May you rise steadily in your career

Crushed Peanuts 

金银满屋 (jīn yín măn wū)

Hope that your house will be filled with gold & silver

Sesame Seeds

生意兴隆 (shēng yì xìng lóng)

Wishing you a successful and prosperous business

Golden Crackers 

满地黄金 (măn dì huáng jīn)

May your floor be covered with gold

The crackers are shaped like golden ingots which represents wealth.

Plum Sauce

甜甜蜜蜜 (tián tián mì mì)

May you have a sweet and loving relationship

Now that you’ve learnt all the auspicious wishes, you may fancy yourself an expert.

But there’s still more! If you really want to show off your language skills, try saying the wishes in Cantonese. You’ll impress everyone at the table – especially your parents and grandparents. 

At Highline Residences, we believe some cultures are too precious to be lost. For more information, stayed tuned to find out more about #TiongBahruLang.

WANT MORE? WE THINK YOU'D LIKE THIS