There’s no doubt that we Chinese people do not mind a little help when it comes to auspicious matters during the Lunar New Year. The Yee Sang ?? (raw fish salad) is perhaps a dish that is most synonymous with the season because of its “powers” to draw in good fortune. However, prosperity is a classy act and doesn’t hangs herself on just anybody. Like Ali Baba, your mission is to decipher her secret code before she reveals her bedazzled cave to you. To save you from the embarrassment of screaming out “Open Sesame” when you partake in the tossing of Yee Sang ??, here’s an easy step-by-step guide on what you should actually say to usher in good fortune for the rabbit year:
1. Greet your fellow diners and guests around the table with the main Chinese New Year greetings: “Gong Xi Fa Cai ????” (wishing you a prosperous new year) and “Wan Shi Ru Yi ????” (may all your desires be fulfilled) when the dish is placed in the centre of the table;
2. Next, squeeze in lemon juice over the raw fish slices and say “Da Ji Da Li ????” (good fortune and blessings);
3. As you put in the fish slices over the platter of salad, say “Nian Nian You Yu ????/?” – a wish for abundance and good fortune. “Fish” and “abundant” have the same pronunciation “Yu” in Chinese. Therefore, fish is always used as a symbol of abundance;
4. “Long Ma Jing Shen ????” – the wish of good health and vigorous spirit of a dragon horse (a fabled winged horse with dragon scales in Chinese mythology) comes when you sprinkle pepper over the plate;
5. When the cinnamon powder or five-spiced powder is added, say “Qing Chun Chang Zu ????” (wishing you everlasting youth and a long life);
6. To grease in more wealth and prosperity, be sure to say “Rong Hua Fu Gui ????” when oil is poured over the salad;
7. This is followed by the pouring of sweet plum sauce and a wish of “Tian Tian Mi Mi ????” (may your days be sweet and happy);
8. Sprinkle a mountain of ‘golden ingots’ or better known as crispy crackers over, obviously the most unhealthy bit of this salad, and say “Man Di Huang Jin ????” (may gold fall on your feet);
9. And finally, invite everyone to toss the salad with phrases like “Yue Lao Yue Qi ????” and “Lao Dao Feng Shen Shui Qi ??????“, which literally means “the higher you toss, the higher your fortune” and “toss until the winds and the waters rise up high as the mountains” for a good year ahead.
If you should find yourself not being able to recall any of the above auspicious sayings, chanting “Big Money, Big Bonus, Big House, Big Car and Big Luck” will probably work just as good.
However, if you are really superstitious and not convinced with my modern chant suggestions, the next best thing is to get yourself a Standard Chartered credit card. You see, in conjunction with this years Chinese New Year celebration, the best chefs from top 8 Chinese restaurants in the Klang Valley have been selected to cook up a storm with a customised Extravagant 8 menus. This first-of-its-kind dining experience is priced at only RM888++ per table of 8 pax as the number “8” is most commonly associated with prosperity in the Chinese culture and you may want to rub some 8 on yourself. But naturally, this prosperous Eight-travagant experience is only exclusive for Standard Chartered credit card holders.
This promotion goes on between 20 January and 17 February 2011. During this period, not only will your gastronomical journey includes somebody to help with the auspicious Yee Sang sayings (all you have to do is just pick up your chopsticks and toss), you will also be treated to free fortune cookies!
Apart from Tai Zi Heen, other participating restaurants in this campaign are: Li Yen @ Ritz-Carlton KL, Shanghai @ JW Marriott, Celestial Court @ Sheraton Imperial, Zing @ Grand Millennium, Gu Yu Tien @ Chulan Square, Elegant Inn @ Menara Hup Seng and Chynna @ Hilton KL.
Special thanks to Standard Chartered and the Queen for the dinner invitation.
Tai Zi Heen,
Prince Hotel & Residence Kuala Lumpur,
Jalan Conlay, 50450 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: +603-2170 8888