Friday, 6 July 2007

Jui Hoo Char

Cooking jiu hoo char involves tedious cutting of the ingredients and then another one half hour patiently stir-frying it. This is a Hokkien dish which means fried cuttlefish. It is usually cooked only during major festivals such as the Chinese New Year and for praying to the deceased on the Chinese seventh month and death anniversaries. It also used to be one of the main dishes for wedding eve dinners and wedding day lunch which is now mostly being replaced with buffet for aesthetic purposes and convenience.

A good jiu hoo char must have its sengkuang, carrots, mushrooms and pork sliced into thin layers and then finely shredded, preferably cut by hand with a knife. Those that are processed with a metal shredder would be mushy and not taste as good. It is also important to stir fry the garlic, cuttlefish and onions until fragrant before adding the other ingredients.

Jiu hoo char keeps well. In fact, it tastes even better if kept overnight and then heated again. It is usually cooked enough for a few meals.


  • 600g sengkuang
  • 1 medium sized carrots
  • 1 large onion
  • 4 pips garlic, chopped
  • 6 shiitake mushrooms
  • 75g shredded dried cuttlefish
  • 200g belly pork, skin removed
  • 1/2 cup cooking oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Soak mushrooms in 1 cup of hot water for about 30 minutes. Keep the water that mushrooms had been soaking in. Rinse shredded cuttlefish and leave to dry. Cook meat in boiling water and remove. Finely shred sengkuang, carrots, mushrooms and pork. Cut onions into halves and then slice thinly.

Heat oil in wok. Add garlic and stir-fry until fragrant. Add cuttlefish and stir-fry until fragrant. Add onions and pork and stir-fry until fragrant and onions are soft. Add the rest of the shredded ingredients and stir-fry until they become soft and turn a few shades darker. Add salt. Add mushroom water bit by bit, stirring all the time to prevent the vegetables from burning and sticking to the bottom of the wok. Continue stirring until fragrant, the volume of the ingredients reduced by half, which should be approximately one half hour.

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