That “CNY” sounds like a crime show, but actually stands for Chinese New Year which greets us on January 31, just before the Super Bowl weekend.
Now if you are a betting man, or woman, keep in mind 2014 is the Year of the Horse in Chinese astrology, thus boding well for the Broncos. (Plus we hate Seattle for what they did to our Niners.)
The lucky salad you will be preparing is called Yum Seng, which means “raw fish” but also sounds very close to “an increase in abundance” in Cantonese. Yes, and Simone Appetit sounds like Bon Appetit. I am full of “sounds like” today. Sounds like I need a nap.
Bottom line, this is a great tradition no matter which side of the globe (or football league) you find yourself on this Chinese New Year. The key to its success is in the shredding; you want your vegetables to be in long strips. If you do not have a Julienne slicer or a mandolin to do so, you can use your vegetable peeler to achieve the same end, it is just a little more time consuming.
Once you have all your salad ingredients ready to go, get out a large, round decorative platter which will serve as your final dish. As you add each item to the plate, keeping them separated in small piles, say a wish out loud. For instance, you place the shredded carrots on the plate and say, “Snow!”
Next, you add the radish strips and say, “I marry Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie gets custody of the kids!” (It is important to be specific). Finally, when all salad ingredients are on the plate, you invite your guests to pick up their chopsticks and toss the salad with you, saying “Lo Hei!” The higher you toss, the more prosperous your year.
“Lo Hei” translates to “upward to good fortune” or “drink to victory” depending on if you have any alcoholic beverages left in the house after the 49ers’ loss in the playoffs. I should have made this lucky salad last week.
Yum Seng or Lucky Lo Hei salad
This is for only two servings. One of my wishes, as I add the cucumber, is “more friends!” Apparently I am low on Lo Hei pals. This is a subject I will need to address in the Wellness section.
1 carrot, peeled
1 white radish (daikon), peeled
2 tbsp Japanese red pickled ginger (usually in the Asian section at your local grocer)
1 / 4 cup cripsy Chun King noodles or crispy won ton strips
one small fillet of salmon ( 4-5 oz.), very thinly sliced, sashimi style
Toppings, sprinklings and dustings:
1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
1 tbsp roasted peanuts, finely chopped
1 tsp Chinese five spice
1 tsp cinnamon
dash of white pepper
Sauce, to drizzle on before tossing:
3 tbsp Chinese plum sauce
1 tbls. apricot jam
3 tbls. lime juice
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp of hot water to achieve the consistency of sauce to your liking
a set of chopsticks for each guest
Shred all vegetables into long strips and arrange them in separate piles on large plate or round platter. Top with layer of salmon slices. Sprinkle crispy noodles, peanuts and sesame seeds over all.
Lightly dust all with Chinese five spice, cinnamon and white pepper. Stir the sauce ingredients in a small saucepan, bring to a low boil, stirring to blend. Remove from heat and cool completely.
When ready to Lo Hei, drizzle sauce over Yum Seng salad, hand out the chop sticks and, at the count of three, toss the salad saying, loudly, “Lo Hei!”
Simone Grandmain is an internationally published travel and food writer who currently calls Truckee-Tahoe home. She welcomes your recipes, kitchen “must-haves” and food news at firstname.lastname@example.org.