Monday, February 21, 2011

Yee Sang (Homemade)

Every time I don't get to go back home for Chinese New Year, one of the first things I whine about is that I won't be able to have Yee Sang (a special salad that is normally only available during Chinese New Year in Malaysia and Singapore). It just did not occur to me to make our own - maybe because nowadays you'd only get the kind with the dehydrated vegetables at restaurants and supermarkets. Stupidly, for longer than I care to admit, the thought "how are we going to dehydrate the ingredients?" was the one thing that was floating about at the back of my head that was preventing me from coming to the now blindingly apparent solution. The haze must have lifted at some point because randomly, I put two and two together: the memory of my parents telling me that when Yee Sang was first introduced in KL, all the ingredients were fresh + that means we don't have to have dehydrated ingredients for Yee Sang = we can make our own Yee Sang with fresh ingredients. Doh!

So we made it by roughly following this recipe and it turned out brilliantly. S and I were both amazed and how closely it resembled what we normally get back home. One would think that there would be a drastic difference in taste when replacing dehydrated ingredients with fresh ones - but there really wasn't. I think the key ingredients were the toasted sesame seeds, the plum sauce and lemon juice. The first time we made it, we left out the lemon juice and the sauce wasn't quite right. The second time, with lemon juice, it was perfect. This tasty dish delivers a delightful myriad of flavours and textures - juicy, sweet, sour, savoury, crunchy, soft, crispy, nutty, soft, tangy, fresh....MMMMM! Every bite is just irresistibly refreshing, like a burst of 'happy' in your mouth. I don't think we will be able to resist not making this again even though it's not Chinese New Year anymore. S?

We adapted the recipe slightly because we couldn't get things like pomelo here, and as usual, we added/omitted whatever felt right:

Second attempt - close to perfect

Yee Sang (adapted from here)

(adjust to your preference)

Fresh salmon, sliced into thin fillets (season with lemon juice, a pinch of five spice powder and pepper)
Carrots, finely julienned
White radish/daikon, finely julienned
Pomelo, separated down to individual sacs or small segments (if you can get pomelo)
Pickled ginger, finely sliced
Pickled onions, finely sliced
Mango, julienned
Roasted peanuts
Toasted sesame seeds
Fried wonton skins
Fresh coriander

For the dressing :
Plum sauce mixed with lemon juice (about 2: 1, should still be reasonably thick)
Oil (we used canola)


1. Make sure you buy the freshest fish for the dish and slice the fillet into thin strips. Season as instructed.
2. Arrange all the ingredients into sections on a large serving platter.
3. To serve, pour plum sauce dressing and oil over the salad then immediately toss the salad with chopsticks (and friends preferably) as high as you can (the higher the luckier apparently) without too much of it ending up on the table/floor, while making loud proclamations of good luck and fortune for everyone for the New Year.

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