Chinese New Year must have dish – Joo hoo char

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.

joo hoo char

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.

dried squid - joo hoo si

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.

turnip sengkuang

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.

carrot and chinese celery

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.

grated carrots

Carrots are easily grated with the grater. It takes just minutes to get them into thin, long strips.

sliced turnip

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.

Post Author: lilian

Used to be PenangFaces, now known as Food Haven, for all oink-oink foods

14 thoughts on “Chinese New Year must have dish – Joo hoo char

    […] you don’t miss out anything. Thanks for visiting and enjoy!I have written a long post over at the Food Haven on the step-by-step recipe to make joo hoo char. Many people do not cook this dish because they said it is too time consuming and very tedious. […]


    (January 7, 2008 - 6:44 pm)

    hey lilian, thanks for the tips. never knew one cant grate turnips! i never cook this dish b4, might just try it for once hehe

    Agnes Tan

    (January 7, 2008 - 11:39 pm)

    My tummy is barking now.


    (January 8, 2008 - 4:47 pm)

    wow! lots of great tips! these tips will definitely come in handy one day when i decide to cook this dish! 🙂


    (January 9, 2008 - 10:46 am)

    Your recipes and photos are always very interesting and enjoyable. I was wondering if you have ever considered filming your cooking and sharing your recipes on youtube?


    (January 13, 2008 - 1:49 pm)

    i’m not a Penangite but definitely a hokkien and joo hoo char is REALLY A MUST for chinese new year. 🙂 thanks to my pho pho!

    […] Joo Hoo Char […]

    I am denouncing…. | The Obnoxious 5xmom

    (January 31, 2008 - 1:15 am)

    […] case you miss out my step-by-step of making jiu hoo char, go to my recipe […]


    (August 19, 2008 - 3:03 pm)

    Hi, I ran across your blog today… I grew up in Penang, and reading your blog makes me miss the place!


    (December 21, 2008 - 8:22 pm)

    hi, i have tried your recipe. my husband n my daughter loved it. Thanks!!

    […] Jiu Hoo Char or stir fried dried squids with turnips […]

    […] weather here in Penang is so, so, so hot. I have just finished cooking jiu hoo char and had my lunch (at 3 pm). Now, I stinks of yau yee but my jiu hoo char is damn nice. It was meant […]


    (October 28, 2009 - 4:00 pm)

    one of my mom’s favourites. When she’s around, I don’t bother at all. Nowadays, when I make “mon guang cha” I will use the shredder she bought for me.

    Maria Yong

    (January 7, 2010 - 11:04 am)

    I googled for traditional chinese new year recipes and came across your site.

    I must say I have found your recipes to be very authentic and the ingredients very accurate just like my mother’s.

    I have not tried any of them yet but feels compelled to try it for this year’s CNY.

    I have to try extra hard to celebrate CNY becos my husband is Italian. I don’t want my kids to grow up thinking they are white becos they look more white than mixed.

    Thank you for putting up this site. I love it.

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