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Foreign Grocery Friday: The Chinese New Year 'Yusheng' Salad of Singapore

January 20, 2012 at 11:04 AM | by | ()

When we travel, one of our favorite things to do is to pop into a local grocery store and check out the food products and candies we'd never find anywhere else. So we're trying out this new feature, Foreign Grocery Friday, where each week we'll feature some of our (and your) favorite overseas treats. Got a recommendation? Let us know!

This Sunday night is more than just any old Sunday night; it's the Chinese New Year, when the year of the rabbit ends and the year of the dragon begins. The celebrations surrounding the lunar new year are many, and based on tradition. There's the giving of red envelopes containing money, the eating of mandarin oranges and sweets, and the gathering with family. And with almost every other special occasion ever, Chinese New Year mandates the preparation of special dishes to celebrate.

In Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore, the new year means eating a special raw fish salad called Yusheng, with ingredients added one by one, and each with its own deeper meaning (salmon for abundance, deep-fried crackers symbolizing gold, etc). Just as important as serving Yusheng for the new year is the act of mixing the salad with a toss called "lo hei." The higher you toss the salad, the greater you'll soar to new heights in the new year.

The taste: We got our chopsticks deep into some Singaporean Yusheng earlier today, and the contents of it are complex. There's like 25+ of them, including raw salmon and abalone, daikon, carrots, pickled ginger, peanuts and shrimp crackers. Although it looks stringy like thin noodles, there are no noodles present. What you're eating, and what makes it unexpectedly crunchy, are carrots and daikon and pepper and all sorts of the other many ingredients.

It's not spicy unless you add something spicy to it, and overall it just tastes like a fresh mixed green salad that's brought a few fishy friends over. Speaking of which, other sashimi besides salmon and abalone may be added.

The price: Varies depending on where you're purchasing it and how many the platter will serve. A typical Yusheng for four people costs around 20 Singapore Dollars ($16 USD).

Where to find it: While it's not a grocery item on its own, Yusheng can be bought mostly pre-made from the grocery store and street stalls around this time of the year. We watched as a whole capsule of the giant Singapore Flyer wheel was transformed into a temporary dining space for the Yusheng tradition.

If you'd like to share some of your foreign grocery finds, we'd love love love to see them. Send 'em on over via email here and snack on, my friends.

Disclosure: Airfare to Singapore and some accommodations were as a guest of Singapore Airlines, though all photos and opinions are completely our own.

[Photos: Jaunted]

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