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Tossing For Good Health: How To Eat Takeaway Yusheng Safely

What you should take note of when eating the festive raw fish salad at home.
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As Chinese New Year rolls by, prepare to raise your chopsticks and toss the auspicious-sounding raw fish salad, yusheng, with family and friends. Although it is par for the course to have festive feasts in restaurants, takeaway potluck meals at home is becoming the new norm.

In recent years, some diners have been getting squeamish over consuming raw fish with tapeworm infections on the rise. Most of them stem from an accumulation of parasites and bacteria in the gut from consuming uncooked meat and seafood. In December 2015, the National Environment Agency banned the sale of raw freshwater fish in all food establishments here in Singapore.. These fishes include toman (snakehead) and song fish (Asian bighead carp) that are typically eaten with Chinese porridge. This was sparked by an outbreak of Group B streptococcus bacteria infections. With the ban still enforced, some eateries and restaurants have been permitted to sell raw saltwater fishes, such as ikan parang and salmon.

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Yusheng, a raw fish salad, is considered a symbol of abundance, prosperity and vigour.
Yusheng, a raw fish salad, is considered a symbol of abundance, prosperity and vigour.
With the scare, more restaurants are offering cooked meat such as beef, chicken and seafood in yusheng the past two years. However, some diners still value the cultural significance of this festive dish. Yusheng, which is a symbol of prosperity and abundance, is an integral part of the lo lei tradition, in which diners toss the salad while spouting prosperity-laden sayings.
Bountiful Blessings Yusheng with Fugu sashimi features thinly-sliced fugu sashimi displayed in the silhouette of a beautiful crane or an adorable dog. (Photo: Si Chuan Dou Hua.)
Bountiful Blessings Yusheng with Fugu sashimi features thinly-sliced fugu sashimi displayed in the silhouette of a beautiful crane or an adorable dog. (Photo: Si Chuan Dou Hua.)
At least four restaurants are serving raw saltwater fish in their takeaway yusheng this year. They include Si Chuan Dou Hua, which is debuting a fugu yusheng featuring pufferfish from Shimonoseki, Japan; Crystal Jade Restaurants has a Garden of Wealth Yusheng that features lily pad-shaped nasturtium leaves, freeze-dried wolfberries, ice plant and wood sorrel red leaves and salmon sashimi slices; and Golden Peony in the Conrad Centennial Singapore also offers raw salmon, abalone, lobster and white bait to go with the traditional salad.
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What Restaurants are Doing

At Crystal Jade Restaurant, its takeaway yusheng sets (left) comprise packs of raw salmon slices that are vacuumed-packed and frozen fresh. Upon collection, an additional ice pack is provided. The restaurant also advises diners to consume the salmon immediately or within two hours. Diners also have the option of replacing salmon slices with baby abalone.

Golden Peony’s executive Chinese chef Ku Keung says: “To give some customers a peace of mind, I have replaced raw hamachi with cooked French scallops this year. The salmon we use is of sashimi-grade that is frozen and taken out of the refrigerator just before customers collect the yusheng for takeaways. The fish is also placed in insulation bags that should be refrigerated as soon as possible."
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Other Food Safety Tips That Diners Can Observe include:

• Fresh seafood should not have excess liquid when packaged.
• Place raw seafood and ready-to-eat food on separate plates to avoid cross-contamination.
• Thoroughly wash knives, containers and cutting boards before and after handling raw seafood.
• Do not re-freeze seafood that has been completely thawed.
• Do not open refrigerator or freezer doors more often than necessary to avoid temperature fluctuation.
• When storing or thawing seafood in the refrigerator, place the seafood in containers or trays to prevent the juices from contaminating other food.

Source: Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority
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