Lo Hei for Chinese New Year
With the Lunar New Year almost upon us, it is time to take a look at one of the traditions for the event that has gained popularity over recent years, Lo Hei. While there are many traditions surrounding the New Year celebrations, this tradition (and the dish) is most popular in Malaysia and Singapore, but it is becoming more and more common among Chinese communities around the world.
Known as Lo Hei or Yee Sang in Cantonese, or Yu Sheng in Mandarin, the traditional dish is served up as the first course of a celebratory banquet held for everybody’s birthday, which takes place on the 7th day of the lunar new year. The dish, which is considered to be a salad, features a base of julienned carrots, spring onions and radish, and is topped with raw fish or smoked salmon. Extra ingredients, such as crushed nuts (typically peanuts), sesame seeds, spices, plum sauce and sesame oil are then added in a specific order, while auspicious wishes are declared, as detailed in our diagram below!
The Cantonese phrase ‘Lo Hei’ translates to ‘to toss up good fortune’, and so those making and eating the dish use their chopsticks to throw the salad up in the air before they begin to eat it. It is considered that the height diners are able to toss the dish reflects the amount their fortune will grow in the coming year.
Following tradition, the dish should only be served on the seventh day of the lunar new year in line with the ‘birthday of men’. However, the growing popularity of the dish has led to many Chinese restaurants serving it up before the New Year celebrations begin and all the way through to the end of the fifteen-day festivities.
While many people celebrating the lunar new year go to a Chinese restaurant to partake in the Lo Hei tradition, if you want to have a go at making the dish at home, look for all the ingredients you need, including oriental cooking oils, at Oriental Mart!