Lo Hei is the Cantonese name for a unique salad dish that has only been made popular during Chinese New Year in recent years.
It is a really colourful, fun, interactive dish which is served at the start of a Chinese New Year banquet.
It was created as a dish to celebrate everybody’s birthday which falls on the 7th day of the Lunar New Year. This day is sometimes called the Birthday of Men.
Legend has it that this is the day that the Emperor of Heaven gave the approval for Goddess to create the human race.
As with every good Chinese legend and tradition, there is a food element to the story. In this case, it is traditional to celebrate the day with seven vegetables or raw fish, which led to the creation of this dish.
What is in Lo Hei or Yee Sang?
The name Yee Sang or Lo Hei originated from the Cantonese phrase ‘to toss up good fortune’. It is also known as Yu Sheng in Mandarin.
It is primarily a salad dish with julienned daikon radish, carrots, spring onions, ginger, pickled spring onions, cucumber, crispy fried dough croutons, seaweed, Chinese pear and raw fish like salmon or yellowtail.
The salad is dressed with some crushed peanuts, sesame seeds, five-spice powder, plum sauce and sesame oil.
For those who don’t like raw fish, smoked salmon is sometimes used as a substitute.
The combination results in a flavour that is tangy and sweet but incredibly fresh.
This dish is very popular in Malaysia and Singapore and now you even see it in Hong Kong and other Chinese communities around the world.
As it is not a dish that is usually made at home, you would need to find a Chinese restaurant that serves it.
It used to be a special dish served only on the 7th day but due to its popularity, restaurants are starting to serve this before New Year and extending it to the end of Chinese New Year on Day 15.
Even in London, quite a few Chinese restaurants are now offering this dish for their Chinese New Year menus.
What is the etiquette when eating Lo Hei?
Lo Hei is usually served on one large platter. The star ingredient – the raw fish – is added at the table. The salad is dressed at the table with the sauces poured over the salad.
Everyone around the table has to stand up and use their chopsticks to mix and toss the salad.
As you toss the salad, you have to shout out your wishes for the new year like ‘to get a promotion’ or ‘ to win the lottery’.
It is a belief that the higher you toss the salad the better your luck will be for the new year.
Where can you find Lo Hei Yu Sheng in London?
Here are a few places in London to try this unique lucky dish for Chinese New Year.
101 Buckingham Palace Rd, London SW1W 0SJ
What to order: Yusheng Prosperity Toss with abalone
5th Floor, Harrods, 87–135 Brompton Rd, Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7XL
What to order: Prosperity Toss Salad Sashimi Salad
2-24 Kensington High St, Kensington, London W8 4PT
What to order: Prosperity Hamachi Yu Sheng Salad
Royal China Queensway
13 Queensway, London W2 4QJ
What to order: Rainbow Lucky Salad Toss
Debenhams, 334-348 Oxford St, Marylebone, London W1C 1JG
What to order: Lo Sang with Salmon