December 8, 2023


Family Food Travel Website

The Origins of Yee Sang

The Chinese New Year is one of the most celebrated holidays in Asia. It is celebrated in many countries with significant Chinese population like Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and Chinatown elsewhere. The tradition is inherited by generations since the migrations of their ancestors from different parts of China.
dragon i salmon yee sang
In Malaysia and Singapore, Chinese New Year is celebrated with a unique raw fish salad named “Yee Sang” or Prosperity Toss. The salad of shredded vegetables with sweet sauce, condiments and topped with strips of raw fish and sprinkled with lime. Traditionally the carp fish is used as the raw fish but now salmon is a more popular choice.

yee sang
You need to mix and toss the salad and say out loud “auspicious wishes”. Your growth of fortune will depend on the height of your toss and there should not be any leftover of the salad. Yee Sang is served in most Chinese restaurants and pre-packed for take away in restaurants, supermarkets and hypermarkets.

yee sang tossing

The origin of the modern Yee Sang is a hot debate between the two countries. Singapore claimed it started since 1964 in Singapore’s Lai Wah Restaurant while Malaysia claimed it started since 1947 in Seremban’s Loke Ching Kee.

However, I never recall any yee sang activities while I was in Singapore in the 1980s and the question remains unsolved. Even our Singapore relatives never heard of Yee Sang only until 1990s and out of sudden, it has become a Singapoean food.

While Singapore claiming Yee Sang started by them as well as bakuteh, do you think they started it?

So do you think it is originated from Singapore or Malaysia?

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0 thoughts on “The Origins of Yee Sang

  1. hmmmm let me ask u one thing silly which is not related from the post but related towards yee sang.

    do people usually drink Sake right after finish yee sang?

    Or drink Hot chinese tea right after finish yee sang?

    my experience here is finish hot chinese tea when I termakan a pcs of raw salmon from yee sang, it boil my throat and yee sang in my belly and eventually half cooked the salmon in it.

    I know it sounds abit “wai” and yah . . . conclusion is I encourage people drink something warm right after yee sang, all I see is people drink Ice Chinese Tea nowadays lol

    1. Hi Kianfai,

      This is a very good question. Most of the people will drink hot chinese tea because yee sang is commonly served in Chinese restaurant but I don’t mind the sake.


  2. It is a malaysian thingy, even my friends in taiwan claimed they too are following this malaysian custom in taiwan. It was never in spore when i was there from 1990 to 1996….whereas it has been practiced in malaysia way before that.

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