Saturday, January 28, 2006
Chinese New Year Lo Hei in Singapore
Chinese New Year in Asia is like Thanksgiving in the US: everyone gets together with their families, airports get crowded as a result, and everything except for movie theaters, 7-Eleven, and McDonald's shuts down. And just like turkey in the US, there is a central dish in the dinner festivities: lo hei (at least, in Singapore and Malaysia - this dish doesn't seem to be too prominent in other Chinese communities).
Lo hei is basically a shredded veggie salad featuring yu sheng raw fish. Actually, every ingredient in the salad is supposed to represent something, be it prosperity, fortune, or whatever (I think the fried wonton skins are supposed to be like gold flakes or something?). It's generally accompanied by a sweet dressing, although I've seen some variants like a spicy Sichuan red oil version as well as (whoa) a Tex-Mex version.
And one key element in this dish is the group salad tossing (cue Chris Rock's standup). Basically everyone grabs a pair of chopsticks and starts tossing the salad by lifting the ingredients up in the air and then dropping it down onto the plate (don't forget those chants in Chinese...or at least start yelling out some good wishes or something positive like that). I'm told that the higher you're able to lift the ingredients, the wealthier (or is it luckier?) that you will be. This can create quite a bit of havoc on the table given you'll often miss the plate underneath, but it's all part of the experience.
Digested at 9:31 PM
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