If you are a Penangite and are a Hokkien or at least some relations to Hokkien folks, this is one of the must have dish for Chinese New Year. Almost every home has it. But, the difference is in the flavour of the dish. Some of my relatives cook this but they taste just flat and normal.
I have made joo hoo char (ju hoo char) for several Chinese New Years already but somehow, I never make a blog post of it because usually, I fried them in big batches and was too stressed out to bother. This time, I took the trouble to make a smaller portion and show readers the step-by-step way to prepare this.
I will break this into two posts due to the number of photos and tips.
Joo hoo char got its evil good taste from the three-layer pork that we use. You cannot get really good halal joo hoo char. Chicken meat is just too dry. In order to cut these pork into really tiny pieces, you need to parboil it. Dunk the strip of pork into boiling water and leave it to turn colour. Do not cook it, just let it be a little firmer so that it is easier to cut.
This is the dried squid strips or we call it joo hoo si. Before buying, smell that it doesn’t smell pungent. It has to have a pleasant smell of the sea and not some rotten fish. Two taels (tahils) will be sufficient.
The main vege is of course the turnip or sengkuang or Hokkien call bangkuang. Large or older ones yield better quality. This turnip weighs 800 grams. Avoid getting tiny ones because they are full of sap and will make your dish very soggy due to the high water content.
The other vegetables are the carrots and Chinese celery. Some people use spring onions but my mother told me to avoid spring onions because they can cause the dish to turn bad faster. The Chinese celery will balance off the strong smell of the squid.
Carrots are easily grated with the grater. It takes just minutes to get them into thin, long strips.
However, avoid doing the same with the turnip because when you grate them, the turnip will turn dry and fibrous. So, what I normally do is to use the slicer to slice them into thin slices. I only use a cheap Mini Wonder which costs me RM7.90. You can find them from most supermarkets. Cutting the slices of turnip is not hard at all and I actually love this process.
Forget about the strict rule of wanting your joo hoo char to be as finely sliced as possible. When people eat, they don’t see if the thickness are uniform. Just take a big cleaver and slice with no worries.
This other tip is what my mom taught me. Turnip has some sap and you need to wash them after cutting. The sap will make your palm feel sticky. Put the sliced turnip, carrot and Chinese celery into a pot of running water. Mix them well.
Then, drain these vegetables in a colander till they are dry.
Cut the pork and Chinese dried shitake mushroom into thin slices. Seen above is a tablespoon of fermented bean paste. (taucheo)
The full recipe is available on Best Recipe food blog.