KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 25 — The Year of the Tiger is almost upon us and many of us are scurrying to shop for all our festive goodies. From pineapple tarts to stacks of savoury-sweet bakkwa, no one wants to be short on snacks during Chinese New Year.
The traditional treats are great but sometimes it’s nice to be a bit adventurous with our choices. Let the “fireworks” go off on our jaded palate and may our taste buds jump for joy.
Go big — and colourful! — with the Rainbow Yee Sang at PapaSan Canteen, a popular Japanese-influenced casual eatery launched by friends Zac Kwek and Jimmy Yap.
The extensive list of ingredients includes sashimi, octopus, honey baby prawns, baby octopus, jellyfish, seaweed, salmon fish roe, tobiko fish roe, chicken jerky, pomelo, pear, strawberries, mandarin orange, turnip and homemade sesame peanut mayonnaise.
“Looking at our menu, we included many Japanese ingredients into our idea of yee sang,” explains Kwek. “We see it as a huge bowl of salad you can enjoy as a main dish, together with your loved ones.”
Every set is freshly prepared daily, and large enough for five to eight persons to share, though Kwek shares that some customers reckon it’s sufficient for a dozen people.
Kwek adds, “We’ve been having yee sang since childhood. The traditional yee sang has been a part of our culture, but after Jimmy and I started our own café, we wanted something different from the norm but still close to what we used to have.”
Drizzle some of their plum sauce with passion fruit, add a squeeze of fresh lime and top it all with crunchy crackers, and you have a yee sang designed to impress even the most jaded of loh sang veterans.
Some of us might be looking for more moderate portions, in which case Hinode Bento’s yee sang might fit the bill. The pretty and petite yee sang has salmon sashimi, various vegetables and a house special yuzu sauce… and comes inside a bento box!
Hinode co-founder Kian Tee says, “We found that in the market all the yee sang come in larger portions. So we decided to make one in a bento size, so even two people can also toss their way to better luck and prosperity this Chinese New Year!”
Besides their Bento Yee Sang, Hinode has also created two festive bentos: one with tiger prawns and gyozas, the other with shio salmon and tori tsukune (chicken meatballs). All three bentos are also available together as a set wrapped in a furoshiki style cloth and customisable message tag.
Tee adds, “We picked orange colour for the cloth and a green tag so the whole package looks like a mandarin orange which symbolises good luck! The gold colour of these fruits also symbolises prosperity.”
As a nice bonus, Malay Mail readers may enjoy RM3 off their purchase of these “prosperity” bentos by using promo code “MMCNY” during checkout. Yet another reason to rejoice.
Some of us may have a tradition of making our own yee sang at home, preferring to customise with our favourite ingredients. (Not to mention to take into consideration allergies that family members might have, which these days run the gamut from seafood and peanuts to dairy and gluten.)
Here’s one way of levelling up your homemade yee sang, then, with fragrant peaches stewed in bourbon by Spread Cheers. The purveyor of artisanal boozy jams based in Taman OUG is co-founded by Richard Soo, who wanted to create a limited edition jam to coincide with the festive period.
Soo shares, “We came up with this recipe after much research and perfecting it through trial and error. We selected peaches because they are symbolic of good health and longevity. Something that is very apt in this Covid-19 situation now where good health is something we wish for everyone.”
Available in both 400g and 100g jars, this jam is not for the meek. One is first hit by the heady scent of sweet peaches that have been stewed in full-bodied bourbon.
The use of liquors is a signature move; the bourbon in this case adds depth to the sweetness of the peaches, preventing the fruit preserve from being too cloying.
One can imagine the loh sang session being very merry indeed after adding a dollop or two of this auspicious jam to the platter of raw fish and julienned fresh vegetables.
The heartfelt message is what counts, as Soo elaborates: “The Chinese have a tradition of presenting dumplings fashioned after peaches to elderly folks on their birthdays to wish them good health and longevity. The smooth, well-rounded profile of bourbon complements the aromatic peaches giving the jam a mellow and intoxicating caramel-like taste.”
Be it a rainbow yee sang made from over a dozen colourful ingredients, or a romantic yee sang for two in the form of a bento, or even something a little special added to your homemade yee sang to give it that extra kick, the possibilities are endless.
May you have a wonderful loh sang together with your loved ones, and may you all be well, healthy and wise in the coming Roaring Year of the Tiger!
PapaSan Kuchai: 18-G, Jalan 2/114, Off Jalan Kuchai Lama, Kuchai Business Centre, KL (Tel: 012-580 0883).
PapaSan Cheras: 181-G, Jalan Lancang, Taman Sri Bahtera, Cheras, KL (Tel: 012-580 2587).
Open daily (except Wed closed) 11:30am-3pm; 5pm-8pm.
** Pre-order the Rainbow Yee Sang (limited portions daily) at papasancanteen.aliments.live/
F-5-1, Pusat Perdagangan Bandar, Jalan Persiaran Jalil 1, Bukit Jalil, KL
Open Tue-Sun 11:30am-4pm; Mon closed
Tel: 016-327 9512
** Malay Mail readers exclusive: RM3 off every purchase by using promo code [ MMCNY ] during checkout.
** Check the above websites for CNY promotions and discounts. To order, WhatsApp Richard wa.link/4chlgw or Ms Ng wa.link/une7ee