I am not a Hokkien. I never know what jiu hu means until recently. So, for those who, like me, are pretty clueless, jiu hu basically means cuttlefish. And char is pretty explanatory since it is the same char as your char kuey teow (fried flat rice noodle).
Today it is all about stir-fried cuttlefish with yam beans (jicama in US), also known as jiu hu char, a dish common in the north peninsula Malaysia. Jiu hu char is commonly served during major Chinese festivals especially during Chinese New Year. This peranakan or Nyonya dish is surprisingly mild with the absence of the usual heavy use of herbs and spices synonymous with a peranakan dish. However, this simple dish is by no means bland. It draws flavour from the cuttlefish and pork belly adding the necessary depth and aroma to the dish.
The process of cooking this dish is not difficult at all. Like most Asian cooking, stir frying is the preferred method. The yam beans actually taste better overnight when the flavours get integrated. What I absolutely love about this dish is the way it is taken, all wrapped up in lettuce. The fresh lettuce adds crunchiness. Eat it with a little sambal belacan (chilli paste) and you get perfection on a plate.
Fried Cuttlefish with Yam Beans/Jiu Hu char 鱿鱼炒
700 g peeled yam beans, shredded
100 g carrot, shredded
60 g shredded cuttlefish
100 g pork belly, sliced thinly
4 mushroom, soaked and sliced thinly (keep water for cooking)
2 shallot, dice finely
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup oil
1 1/4 cup of mushroom soaking water/water
2 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
a few drops dark soy sauce
pepper to taste
1. Heat oil in a wok. Saute shallot and garlic until fragrant.
2. Add shredded cuttlefish and continue to saute until cuttlefish starts popping.
3. Add in mushroom next and fry for about 1 minute.
4. Add yam beans, carrot and seasoning. Stir to combine. Lastly, add in water, cover wok and simmer in low heat until all the yam beans are soften.
5. Remove cover and increase heat. Stir-fry until the dish is almost dry, test the taste and remove from fire. Serve with with fresh lettuce.
The actual jiu hu char is actually lighter in colour. I accidentally pour in more dark soya sauce.
Looking for more reunion dinner ideas? Check out this yummy Siu Yuk (Chinese crispy pork belly)!