This Chinese New Year will be different! I got tired of tossing Yu Sheng and not eating any of it year after year. Yu Sheng is a kind of “prosperity” salad made up of shredded vegetables and tossed with a sweet plum sauce. It is one of the distinctives of Chinese New Year – its roots were actually in Singapore – the four “heavenly kings” chefs (Lao Yuke Pui, Than Mui Kai Yu, Hooi Kok Wai, and chef Sin Leung) came up with this signature dish in a bid to attract customers to their restaurant. Yu Sheng has become part of the expected CNY celebrations in South East Asia and has even spread to HK and China.
The problem with Yu Sheng is that although it is essentially a salad, half the ingredients are extremely carby – the sweet plum sauce, flour crackers, candied ginger and tangerine peel…completely a no-no for me. So every year I’ve been gamely doing the Yu Sheng toss and then trying to explain embarrassedly why I don’t eat the stuff.
So this year I decided to take things into my own hands. I made my own plum sauce (甜甜蜜蜜), substituted the flour crackers with almond slices (金玉满堂), threw out the green and red coloured yam strips and substituted with green Wakame salad and pink Japanese ginger pickle. I avoided the trans-fat laden vegetable oils that people usually use and substituted avocado oil instead. So this is the absolutely lowest carb yu sheng that I’ve managed to achieve…I’m looking forward to a guilt-free Chinese New Year!
All the stuff that goes into Yu Sheng.
Low Carb Yu Sheng
Homemade Plum Sauce
- 1 kg plums, pitted
- 1 inch knob of ginger, peeled and grated
- 1/2 cup sugar substitute
- 1 cup water
- 1 tbsp mirin
- 1 tbsp Japanese cooking wine
- 1/8 cup light soy sauce
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 large cucumber, peeled and spiralized or julienned
- 1/2 daikon radish, peeled and spiralized or julienned
- 1 large carrot, peeled and spiralized or julienned
- 2 segments of pomelo, peeled and broken into small pieces
- 1 tbsp pickled ginger
- 2 tbsp Wakame salad
- 12 thin slices of salmon sashimi
- 2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
- 2 tbsp toasted crushed peanuts
- 1/4 cup toasted almond flakes
- 1 cup fish skin crackers
- 1 tsp ground white pepper
- 1 tsp five spice powder or cinnamon powder
- 1/4 cup avocado oil
- 1/3 cup homemade plum sauce
- 3-4 small calamansi limes
- Add the ingredients for the plum sauce into a saucepan and simmer for about 20 – 30 minutes till the plums are softened.
- Pass the sauce through a sieve and discard the pulp of the plums. The Yu Sheng only needs about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of plum sauce and this recipe makes about enough for 3-4 rounds of Yu Sheng.
- Arrange the spiralized daikon, radish, carrots and pomelo on a large platter. Top with the pickled ginger, Wakame salad and sliced salmon sashimi. Refrigerate until ready to toss.
- Toast the peanuts, almond flakes and sesame seeds on a medium hot non-stick skillet. When cool, place the peanuts, almond flakes, sesame seeds into individual containers.
- Place the avocado oil and plum sauce into individual containers. Place the ground white pepper and five spice powder into small packets.
- When ready to serve, allow the guests to add the ingredients in containers on top of the salad and toss, shouting out the requisite auspicious phrases!
Celebrating the year of the pig with a piggy Yu Sheng!
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