Prosperity toss salad
It was like making a mess, though not really. According to Chinese tradition, tossing the ingredients of a prosperity salad up in the air while silently making a wish brings good luck for the new year. The higher you toss the vegetables, sesame seeds and crispy wontons, the more likely your wish will come true.
And so there we were at Marco Polo’s Lung Hin restaurant, standing shoulder to shoulder with a group of other hopefuls in front of a round table, tossing the salad heavenward with our chopsticks, half believing that this would indeed mean prosperity for us in the Year of the Dog.
It has its merits, this belief, considering each ingredient in the salad signifies something desirable. The ground peanuts were for longevity, the white sesame seeds for good relationship with family, friends and business partners, the pepper for silver dust, the vegetables and fruit (carrots, cucumbers, coriander, ginger and shredded lemon) for precious years, the salmon for abundance, the plum sauce for sweetness and harmony in life, the calamansi for good health, the sesame oil for smoothness in life, and the crispy wontons for gold bars.
There were nine ingredients in all (the veggies counted as one) which, according to Chinese belief, is the lucky number for this lunar year.
We were feeling lucky already, just to be there in Lung Hin, for a taste of the culinary creations of Chinese executive chef Lai Cheuk Kou (aka Chef Terry). After eating our share of prosperity from the humongous salad bowl, we were served a slice of Peking duck, its mahogany skin crisp and flavorful, the accompanying clear osmanthus jelly adding sweetness and the potato chip resonating with the crispness of the duck’s skin.
The steamed shrimp dumpling augured of prosperity too, for not only was the shrimp fat but, in addition, the dumpling was adorned with edible gold leaf.
Then there was the supreme chicken stock that had been boiled for 24 hours to extract the fullness of flavor from the chicken, then boiled again just before being served. Cradling a sautéed tiger shrimp ball, the stock was the color of gold, another propitious sign.
On the more practical side, the red dates in the double-boiled chicken in wolfberry soup had its medicinal use. The Chinese believe red dates are good for blood circulation.
Three more dishes followed, then it was time for dessert—a Chinese New Year cake with two flavors, ube and coconut, signifying double happiness. By then we were not only feeling lucky, we were becoming convinced of Chinese prosperity beliefs.
Here’s the recipe for a prosperity toss salad from Marco Polo Hotel. Invite friends over and toss the ingredients as high as you can. Or, just mosey over to the hotel’s Lung Hin restaurant this Chinese New Year and let Chef Terry enthrall you with Cantonese cuisine.
Prosperity toss salad
Use as many of each ingredient as you wish, depending on your preference and taste. You may also add shredded white radish, jicama (singkamas) and pomelo.
Cooking oil, for frying the wrappers
White sesame seeds
Slice the wonton wrappers into strips then deep-fry them in hot oil until golden and crisp. With a mesh skimmer, remove the wonton strips from the oil and drain them on paper towels. Set aside.
Arrange the carrots, cucumbers, lemon, ginger and coriander leaves in a circle in a large salad bowl or serving platter. Put the salmon in the middle. Sprinkle sesame seeds, ground peanuts and pepper on top. Just before serving, squeeze calamansi juice on the salad. Drizzle with sesame oil and plum sauce.
Give each guest a pair of long chopsticks. Everyone can then toss the salad in the air, as high as possible, while saying their wishes for the New Year.
Lung Hin, Marco Polo Ortigas, Meralco Ave. and Sapphire Rd., Ortigas Center, Pasig City.
For reservations call 7207777.
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