Life is Good

Crazy Salad Welcomes Joy, Luck, Wealth in the Year of the Cock

Lucky salad and a fabulous menu at China Blue by Jereme Leung at the Conrad Manila.
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It was at Nyonya, a Malaysian restaurant in New York’s Chinatown, about 10 years ago that I first tried Yee Sang, a raw fish salad served to celebrate the seventh day of the Chinese New Year. My friend Melissa had invited me to join her and other friends from Singapore toss the sweet, sour, salty, spicy, and crunchy ingredients with our chopsticks. It was a memorable experience—the colors, flavors, and textures all mingling together in a party all their own.

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New Year Salad

This month, I was reintroduced to Yee Sang at China Blue by Jereme Leung at the Conrad Manila. Chopsticks in hand, we tossed raw salmon, fried shrimp, shredded cabbage, peppers and carrots, pickled radish and ginger, sesame seeds, crispy crackers, five-spice powder, olive oil (for a smooth year), plum sauce (for a sweet year), and other nice things, while shouting, “Lo hei! Lo hei!” The higher we tossed, the chef said, the higher our fortunes in the New Year, so of course we went higher and higher. We ended up with quite a mess, but as the chef said, the salad falling outside the bowl meant our wealth would be overflowing.

We had so much fun that afternoon that I brought my Mom, siblings, uncles, aunts, and cousins last weekend to have it again as part of a Chinese New Year celebration.

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Money bags; braised abalone, black mushroom, and sea moss roll

Aside from Yee Sang, China Blue’s special Lunar New Year menu includes plump tofu “moneybags” bursting with seafood and mushroom for good luck and prosperity. A dish of braised abalone, black mushrooms, and rolls of sea moss symbolizes success in business. Stir-fried lobster, which the Chinese consider the king of the sea, brings wealth and happiness. Other standout dishes include smoked duck enrobed in pear-shaped dumplings, and a lovely crab soup with braised peach gum and seafood served in individual bowls over votive candles so it bubbles happily as you sip, or in the traditional way, slurp it as loudly as you can.

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Pear dumpling with smoked duck; braised peach gum and seafood with crab roe broth

Wishing you all a happy, prosperous Year of the Rooster.

Life is good.

China Blue’s special menu is available through February 2. 683.3915; [email protected]

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Yvette Fernandez
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