The “prosperity toss” of a special salad is a tradition that people in Singapore and Malaysia follow as part of their celebrations for Chinese New Year. You’ve probably seen the celebration in action at a lunch, or participated in it yourself. But what is the origin of this and what are the lo hei ingredients? Here we outline what to do when you’re tossing lo hei, including what to say.
What is a yusheng lo hei prosperity toss?
In Cantonese, lo hei means “tossing up good fortune” or “prosperity toss” and yu sheng means “raw fish”. The Cantonese homophones for the latter can be interpreted as meaning abundance of life.
Yusheng lo hei is therefore considered by the Chinese as a symbol of abundance and prosperity. Eating the salad signifies the arrival of an abundance of prosperity in your life.
The dish is traditionally eaten on the seventh day of the Lunar New Year. In Chinese mythology, humans were created on the seventh day of the first month of the Chinese calendar. This is known as ren ri and regarded as the common birthday of all human beings.
Yusheng lo hei originated in China and came to Southeast Asia via Chinese immigrants. It’s most commonly eaten and celebrated in Singapore and Malaysia.
Lo Hei ingredients – what’s in the salad?
The dish is a combination of several ingredients. These include shredded white and green radish and carrots, ginger and onion slices, pomelo, crushed peanuts, pepper and a variety of other goodies.
In Singapore, the lo hei ingredients also include plum sauce, sesame oil and kumquat sauce.
Let’s not forget the raw fish slices! The most commonly used is salmon as its flavour harmonises well with the other ingredients. Some versions use wolf herring. Or, for something more fancy, you can add abalone.
There’s a significance behind each lo hei ingredient. Here’s what they represent:
- Carrots – good luck
- Green radish – eternal youth
- White radish – good job opportunities in the coming year
- Raw fish – abundance and prosperity
- Pomelo – luck.
- Crushed peanuts – valuable possessions that will fill your home
- Sesame seeds – a flourishing business
- Golden crackers – wealth
- Plum sauce – strong ties among family and friends (becauseit binds the yusheng lo hei together)
- Pepper and cinnamon powder – plenty of wishes for wealth
- Oil – money coming from all directions (because it’s drizzled onto the ingredients in a circular motion)
Lo hei – what to say when tossing
Did you know there is a specific order for adding the ingredients on the plate? Each step is also accompanied by particular well wishes.
#1 Place the empty yusheng lo hei platter at the centre of the dining table
恭喜发财 / gong xi fa cai; congratulations and be wealthy.
万事如意 / wan shi ru yi; may all things be as you wish for.
#2 Add the base ingredients of carrots, green radish and white radish
Carrots: 鸿运当头 / hong yun dang tou; good luck is approaching.
Green radish: 青春常驻 / qing chun chang zhi; forever young.
White radish: 步步高升 / bu bu gao sheng; progress higher with each step.
#3 Place the raw fish on the plate
年年有余 / nian nian you yu; abundance throughout the year.
#4 Add pomelo or squeeze a lime over the fish
大吉大利 / da ji da li; good luck and great prosperity.
#5 Sprinkle pepper in
招财进宝 / zhao cai jin bao; attract wealth and treasures.
#6 Sprinkle peanut crumbs in
金银满屋 / jin yu man wu; a home full of gold and silver.
#7 Add sesame seeds
生意兴隆 / shen yi xing long; prosperity for your business.
#8 Drizzle oil and plum sauce in a circular motion
一本万利 / yi ben wan li; make 10,000 times profit with your capital.
财源广进 / cai yuan guang jin; have numerous sources of wealth.
甜甜蜜蜜 / tian tian mi mi; may life always be sweet.
#9 Add the deep fried flour crisps
遍地黄金 / bian di huang jin; a floor full of gold.
#10 Time to toss!
As you toss, continue uttering well wishes. The higher you can toss the lo hei ingredients together, the greater the abundance you will receive. Expect a messy table after tossing – but don’t worry! It symbolises that the abundance is overflowing.
Enjoy this Chinese New Year salad!
Read on for more about what to do (and not to do) for Chinese New Year in Singapore. Also, discover more useful features in our Living in Singapore section.