Though we can find street food in restaurants, most of the time we think of it as cuisine cooked at a market. A bazaar. Chinatown. Pasar malams. Mamak stalls. In short, street food is food cooked and served outdoors.
Just like how roast is often a staple eaten at Christmas, it is customary for the Chinese to feast on Yusheng, a raw fish salad, during the Lunar New Year.
Yee sang, yuu sahng, lo hei or ‘Prosperity Toss’ are alternate names for this salad that is typically served at the beginning of multi-course meals during the Chinese New Year. It is a dish that is a symbolism of good luck in the new lunar year ahead.
In my recent interview with 4EB FM’s Where Are You From, I suggested the Lunar New Year is the Chinese’s version of Christmas – both are family-oriented, food gorging occasions for many Asians and Westerners respectively.
What exactly makes eating the Yusheng a family affair? How do we see or define “family” through this dish?
These days it seems many people of Asian ethnicity all around the world have impeccably strong palates for Western foods.
McDonalds, KFC, Pizza Hut and various other Western restaurants are frequently packed during meal times in Asian countries. “Potato parties” have recently become a fad in Japan and South Korea, so-called parties where groups of young people order obscene amounts of fries and eat them all in one sitting at fast-food joints. Much love for fries.
Many Asian international students and Asian-Australians here in Australia also seem to possess Westernised palates. It is not uncommon to see them ordering fancy smoked salmon and poached eggs on multigrain toast or bircher muesli along with their coffee at upmarket cafes for Saturday brunch and kebabs for dinner later. What happened to having yum cha or sitting at round tables dining at Asian restaurants?
Asian cuisine is aplenty around the city of Melbourne today. But after eating this cuisine quite a bit here I must say that Asian food in Australia differs considerably from the exact same gastronomic fare in Asia.
A large proportion of Asian food and the Asian eating experience in Australia is arguably unhealthy and often customised to suit Caucasian palates so as to appeal to the Anglo-Saxon population.
Salmon sushi (handroll) is all over Melbourne’s CBD, extremely popular with many. But there are other kinds of Japanese food out there too. Photo: Mabel Kwong
Chinese, Malaysian, Japanese and Indonesian cuisines are a few such cuisines constantly served up here. Some are more popular than others Down Under, but most of them usually do not taste or are presented akin to dishes in the Asian region.