Shunde Yu Sheng at Shangcun, China

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Did you know that Shunde Yu Sheng 顺德魚生 (also known as Yusheng) is the inspiration behind the popular Chinese New Year dish, Lo Hei Yu Sheng 捞起魚生? Shunde Yu Sheng was named after the Pearl River Delta town in Guangdong province.

Shunde Yu Sheng from Shangcun, China
Shunde Yu Sheng 顺德魚生
 

I'm glad to have had the opportunity to savour authentic Shunde Yusheng during my visit to Guangzhou in December. This dish left an indelible impression and I fervently hope to eat it again when I next visit Guangzhou.

An icy plate of fresh Chinese Mud Carp slices - Shunde Yusheng
Chilled plate of fresh Chinese Mud Carp 鲮鱼 slices
 

A signature dish for the region, Shunde Yu Sheng calls for really fresh Chinese Mud Carp 鲮鱼. The fish served here was fished out of a pond to order and served on frozen plates. To prevent ice burn, a thin layer of plastic wrap was applied onto the plate before the thin slices of raw fish were laid on it.

Condiments for the Shunde Yu Sheng at Shangcun Condiments for Shunde Yu Sheng at Shangcun
 

The condiments for Shunde Yu Sheng was a colourful array of thinly sliced pickles, onions, garlic, capsicums, dried tangerine peel, lime leaves, sesame seeds, peanuts and crispy fried vermicelli. Do you see some similarities with Singapore's Lo Hei Yu Sheng?

Fresh Chinese Mud Carp fish slices pushed together into the middle of the plate to prep Shunde Yu Sheng
Fresh Chinese Mud Carp fish slices pushed into the middle of the plate
 

Instead of adding raw fish slices to a large plate of vegetables, pickles and other condiments, fish was the main ingredient in Shunde Yu Sheng. We pushed the slices of fish into the middle of the plate so we could add the other ingredients before tossing our individual salads.

Shunde Yu Sheng with Soy Sauce
Shunde Yu Sheng with Premium Soya Sauce
 

Shunde Yu Sheng is dressed with peanut oil and premium soya sauce or salt. Thus it does not have the cloying sweetness that is characteristic of most Singapore-style Yu Shengs. Dried tangerine peel instead of ginger is used to mask any fishy flavour. I was told that ginger is not used in traditional Cantonese recipes. As I do not have a sweet tooth, I enjoyed Shunde Yu Sheng for its' light and savoury flavour. If you like it a little sweeter, you can add some sugar.

Shunde Yu Sheng with Crispy Fried Rice Vermicelli
Shunde Yu Sheng with Crispy Fried Rice Vermicelli
 

Shunde Yu Sheng does not have the flour crisps that are usually used to symbolise “gold” in Singapore's prosperity raw fish salad. Lime leaves were used instead of lime juice to add a slightly citrusy touch to the dish. I felt the delicately sweet fish slices were best enhanced with some salt instead of soya sauce for a cleaner flavour. This is a Must-Try!

Chinese Mud Carp Skin for Shunde Yu Sheng
Chinese Mud Carp Skin
 

Add some fish skin if you like a crunchy and gelatinous texture in your Shunde Yu Sheng.

Chinese Mud Carp Fish Head steamed with Black Bean Paste - Shunde
Chinese Mud Carp Fish Head Steamed with Black Bean Paste
 

True to Cantonese tradition, nothing goes to waste as the fish head is steamed with black bean paste to form another dish. I didn't enjoy this dish as I do not like to eat fish head and mud carp is quite an oily fish, hence it has a slightly fishy flavour.

Fried Chinese Mud Carp Bones - Shunde
Pan-Fried Fish Bones
 

The fish bones were seasoned and pan-fried to a golden brown colour. The flesh that clung to the bones was tender and sweet. This is a Must-Try!

Fish Porridge made using other parts of the Chinese Mud Carp and rice water. Fish Porridge made using other parts of the fish & Rice Water
 

The final course was a porridge dish that had been made using the other parts of the fish, rice grains and a stock made of rice water (skimmed off the pot of cooking rice) which is reputed to be nutritious. Though the porridge seemed watery in comparison to congee, it was no less flavourful. The porridge course is also a Must-Try!

Closer look at Shunde Yu Sheng's condiments

I'm so glad I changed my plans to join Gastronaut and his foodie friends in Guangzhou. During the trip, I had the pleasure of getting to know ET and our foodie guide, whom I nicknamed Hor Fun. Hor Fun took us to various off-the-beaten path eateries. This restaurant in an obscure location in Shangcun 上村 was one of the hidden gems. As we pooled some cash for food, I can't recall how much this meal costs but think it was possibly under US$15 per person.

国记鱼生店 Guo Ji Yu Sheng Dian
顺德区均安镇上村牌坊侧
Phone: +86 13902567134
Find it on Dianping: http://www.dianping.com/shop/9069768
PS: This place was impossible to Google. I finally tracked it down when my Shanghai-based friend WL, told me that Dianping's the tool to use for China.
 
Operating Hours:
  • No idea but we were there for lunch. Call ahead to avoid disappointment.
  • Please get your hotel's concierge to make the call if you can't really speak Cantonese.

* If you’d like to know more about the auspicious phrases that are recited during the assembly and tossing of the salad, refer to my old blog post here: CNY – How to Lo Hei Yu Sheng 捞起魚生