I am not one for art and craft, but if I can arrange this cutesy-looking yusheng featuring five types of pork items – complete with a pig motif and a picket fence fashioned from bak kwa – I am quite sure anyone can.
Every Chinese New Year, I enjoy assembling my own yusheng, but this is the first time I have attempted making one inspired by the year’s zodiac animal.
To fit the Year of the Pig theme, I used bak kwa, crispy bak kwa, pork floss, pork crackling and prosciutto ham. The use of different pork products adds to the texture of the dish, which my colleague named Auspigcious Yusheng.
The crispy bak kwa replaces pok chui (deep-fried flour crackers), which symbolises gold and are found in traditional yusheng. Toss them back in if you are a stickler for tradition or fear losing out on wealth in the new year.
But what is yusheng without fish (yu in Chinese)?
Yu is also the homophone for the Chinese character for abundance. The auspicious Chinese phrase, nian nian you yu (having abundance every year), is said during the tossing ritual of lo hei.
Enter baby abalone (bao yu in Chinese). You do not have to go the whole hog and splash out on highend abalone. A can of farmed baby abalone of reasonable quality can be bought for under $25.
What I like about baby abalone is you can skip slicing them as they are already small-sized. They also look like little gold ingots, giving a luxe feel to the yusheng platter.
You can easily buy ingredients for yusheng, such as the preserved melon strips, preserved ginger and candied orange peel, in ready-touse sets.
The first time I made yusheng at home, I shredded the radishes and carrots myself. But with shredded radish and carrot available in supermarkets during the Chinese New Year season, there is no reason to work yourself to the bone shredding vegetables that then need to be soaked in ice water and dried.
Even with ready-to-use ingredients, it takes some effort to assemble them.
While arranging the shredded carrot on the plate, I was dismayed when it looked more bear than hog at first.
Patience and persistence are required. It can get a little frustrating with the shredded carrot and radish sticking out at the edges, but you can easily trim away the stray ends.
I don’t usually have the patience for arranging food into animal motifs and I am not one to prepare cute-looking food. I assembled my platter with the help of scissors, a spoon and a pair of chopsticks.
If your pig motif does not turn out looking like the animal, do not let it spoil your festive mood.
At the very least, you can enjoy a good laugh with your family while still having fun tossing and eating the salad.
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150g red carrot, shredded
110g green radish, shredded
40g white radish, shredded
20g preserved melon strip (white)
20g preserved melon strips (brown)
100g bak kwa, (cut into 5.5cm by 1cm pieces)
1 baby tomato, halved
70g sliced prosciutto (roll up each slice)
20g preserved melon strips (green)
40g pork crackling
20g preserved ginger (pale yellow)
20g preserved melon strips (light green)
2 segments of pomelo (130g)
1 lime, halved
20g preserved ginger (red)
120g baby abalone
30g crispy bak kwa
30g crushed peanuts
40g candied orange peel
25g toasted sesame seeds
150ml yusheng sauce
120ml rice bran oil
Pinch of pepper
Pinch of cinnamon powder
You will need a plate with a diameter of 20cm.
1. Roll the shredded carrot into a ball and place on the plate. Shape the white shredded radish into the ears of the pig. Use a pair of scissors to trim the stray strands of carrot or radish that stick out.
2. Take a few strands of white preserved melon strips, twirl them around the tip of a pair of chopsticks and place them as the “eye whites of the pig’s eyes head.
3. Do the same with brown preserved melon strips, which to form the eyes of the pig.
4. Take a strip of white radish and lay it out in the shape of a snout.
5. Slice two 1-cm pieces from one piece of rolled-up prosciutto ham. Place these as the nostrils within the snout.
6. Take a strip of bak kwa, bend it slightly and place this on the carrot as the mouth of the pig.27089037
7. Arrange the green radish to form a “grass patch” below the carrot pig.
8. Place the tomato halves below the pig.
9. Place the bak kwa strips, on top of the green radish, to form a picket fence.
10. Arrange the rolled up prosciutto as “tree trunks” around the pig.
11. Arrange the green preserved melon strips above the prosciutto ham so they look like trees.
12. Place the pork crackling above the pig.
13. Place the preserved ginger (pale yellow) next to the ears.
14. Place the light green preserved melon strips around the green preserved melon strips.
15. Place the remaining brown preserved melon strips around the base of each prosciutto ” tree trunk”.
16. Place each segment of the pomelo on either side of the pig.
17. Place the halved limes under the pig’s chin of the pig.
18. Place the remaining white preserved melon strips and red preserved ginger on the left side of the plate.
19. Arrange the baby abalone in the space beside the prosciutto trees.
20. Place the crispy bak kwa at the base of the bak kwa fence.
21. Spoon the crushed peanuts onto the available space, around the edges of the plate.
22. Spoon the candied orange peel onto the available space- above the pig head and around the edges of the plate.
23. Spoon the toasted sesame seeds around the candied orange peel.
24. Add pork floss over the crispy bak kwa.
25. Serve with yusheng sauce, oil, pepper and cinnamon powder on the side.
Serves eight to 10 people
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