If there’s one dish Malaysians look forward to during Chinese New Year, it’s got to be Yee Sang.
Also known as Yusheng or Lo Hei, it features a mix of opposing colours, flavours and textures – crunchy, soft, sweet, sour, fresh, fried, green, red.
Despite this clash, every ingredient in a plate of yee sang has a specific purpose. Fish, symbolises abundance, while carrots represent blessings of good luck.
Our Japanese-inspired Yee Sang is different but familiar and will impress your mother-in-law and critical aunties. Let’s Lo Hei away.
• 230g (1) daikon radish
• 84g (1) carrot
For the dressing
• 100g plum sauce
• 80g honey
• 20g Japanese soy sauce/shoyu
• 13g extra virgin olive oil
• 1 tsp lemon zest (yellow part only), about ½ a lemon
• 35g lemon juice
• 250g sushi-grade salmon
• 250g peeled and cooked crab legs (Kanifumi crab sticks or regular crab sticks)
• 1kg (1) pomelo
• 312g (1 can) mandarin oranges
• 100g cooked Japanese baby octopus (chuka idako)
• 100g Japanese seaweed salad (chuka wakame)
• 150g wasabi coated peanuts
• 100g roasted almonds
• 100g roasted cashews
For the crackers
• 15 sheets gyoza skin
• Cooking oil
• 3g (½ tsp) sea salt
• 2g (½ tsp) five-spice powder
• 15g white sesame seeds
• 28g (2 tbsp) extra virgin olive oil
• 50g (½) lime
• Mandolin with fine-tooth blade attachment
Radish & carrot strands
• Peel daikon radish and chop off both ends. Do the same with the carrots.
• Prepare an iced water bath in a large bowl.
• Using a mandolin with a fine-tooth blade, make a few test slices with your radish. You’ll want to cut it on the bias (diagonally), to get longer strands. Adjust the attachment placement until you get nice even strips of about 1mm.
• After slicing the radish, place inside the water bath (it’s fine if the ice has melted) and the strands will naturally separate.
• Use the mandolin to slice the carrot the same way.
• Add it to the same water bath and mix to distribute evenly.
Crazy delicious dressing
• To make the dressing, add plum and shoyu sauce in a bowl and mix thoroughly.
• Next, add olive oil and stir through. This thins the sauce.
• Add lemon zest and lemon juice and stir to combine. Have a taste. Your dressing should be tangy and sweet. Feel free to add a little extra of each until you get a flavour you really like.
• Serve dressing in a bowl or small jug.
Putting the crunch in Yee Sang
• Slice gyoza sheets into six segments.
• Fill a small pot with cooking oil about 2.5 cm in depth over high heat.
• Once oil is hot enough for frying, about 185°C, test with one piece of cut gyoza. Drop it into the hot oil. If it rises quickly and starts to crisp up, your oil is hot enough.
• Fry gyoza sheets in two or three batches. You’ll want a crunchy cracker that puffs up slightly and is a lovely golden brown. It takes only about 1 minute or so.
• Transfer cooked gyoza to a colander and sprinkle with sea salt. Shake to distribute salt evenly.
• Move gyoza crackers to a bowl lined with kitchen towels to soak up excess oil.
Toasting sesame seeds
• Heat a heavy-bottomed pan on high heat and add sesame seeds.
• Toast until light brown, about 3 minutes. Don’t forget to continuously stir or shake the seeds so it doesn’t burn.
• Transfer about 2 tbsp into a small bowl. Reserve the rest for other recipes or more plates of Yee Sang.
Prepping the main ingredients
• Peel pomelo and cut into segments, removing all the white parts.
• Break pomelo flesh into bite-sized chunks.
• Cut cooked crab in half on the bias (horizontally).
• Slice octopus in half lengthwise, cutting from the head to the tentacles.
• If you purchased a slab of sushi-grade salmon, use a very sharp knife to carefully remove the skin.
• Use a pair of tweezers to remove embedded bones in your slab of salmon.
• Slice as thinly or thickly as you like. Thicker slices add more texture and gives a much better bite.
• Fold sashimi slices in half and arrange in a funnel shape for easier transfer later.
• When you’re ready to assemble the Yee Sang, drain daikon radish and carrot strands. Shake to remove excess water.
• Get a really, really big plate out. It must be round.
• Mentally divide your plate into segments like the image below.
• The middle will be where you place your radish and carrots. Grab a fistful (or more) of radish and carrot strands and shape them into a mountain – you’ll want more radish with just a bit of carrot for colour.
• Place it in the middle of the plate. The Yee Sang is much like a salad, and the radish is the main component. It should take up the largest portion of the plate.
• Next, plate the nuts. Place almonds in one of the funnel segments, then skip two segments and place cashews. Finally, skip another two segments and place wasabi peanuts.
• Place the rest of your main ingredients – pomelo, orange, seaweed, crab legs, Chuka Idako and salmon – in the rest of the empty funnels.
• Finally, place a generous amount of gyoza crackers in a nice ring all around the radish. Your Yee Sang is ready to serve!
Serving the garnish
• Place olive oil in a bowl or small jug.
• Place five-spice powder in a small bowl.
• Also place half a lime in a small bowl.
• Serve together with the dressing made earlier and your plate of Yee Sang.
• To eat, sprinkle toasted sesame seeds all over the prepared plate of Yee Sang. Then sprinkle five spice powder. Next, drizzle olive oil, followed by the dressing. Finally, squeeze lime over the salmon.
• Grab your chopsticks and toss away while expressing your good wishes for the New Year. The messier it is, the higher you toss, the better your fortunes will be. Or so they say.
This article first appeared in butterkicap.com
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