Jiu Hu Char (Stir Fry Jicama with Cuttlefish) is a popular Nyonya side dish or lettuce wrap filling prepared for all major festivals.
Jiu Hu Char (Stir Fry Jicama with Cuttlefish) is the quintessential festival dish for the Penang Nyonyas including those who originate from the northern part of Peninsula Malaysia, like my family. This dish consists mainly of shredded jiu hu si (shredded cuttlefish), bang kuang, carrots, and cabbage. Other ingredients include pork belly strips and mushrooms.
Jiu Hu Char is often served with sang choy (lettuce), used as a wrap for the tasty filling. Dishes served with lettuce is always festive because sang choy literally means “to prosper” and that is a good thing. I actually made this for the recent Chinese New Year Eve Reunion Dinner but did not have the opportunity to post it until now. If you have never tried it, I hope you will soon because it is good any time of the year. 🙂
For a simplified version cooked with shrimps, please check out my Warm Jicama and Cabbage Salad. I also made a version using spaghetti squash – Stir Fry Spaghetti Squash with Shrimps which turned out to be quite delicious. The texture and taste of spaghetti squash lend itself really well when cooked this way. It was great served on its own as a light lunch.
The bang kuang (jicama) and carrots can be cut into matchsticks or shredded using a mandolin. I used both methods depending on how much I am cooking. If it is just for one meal which is half of the recipe below, then I would just cut everything up with a knife. This way I will not have another tool to wash. It is of course entirely up to you.
Jiu Hu Char (Stir Fry Jicama with Cuttlefish) is a popular Hokkien (Fujianese) lettuce wrap filling prepared for all major festivals.
- 1 lb (450g) pork belly, skin removed
- 1 medium bang kuang/jicama (about 2 lbs/900g)
- 2 carrots
- ½ head cabbage (about 1 lb/450g)
- 6 dried Chinese mushroom rinse and soak in hot water for 30 minutes
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 onion, thinly sliced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 3.5 oz (100g) dried shredded cuttlefish, rinse and soak for 5 minutes
- 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 3 green onions, thinly sliced
- 1 bunch green leaf lettuce for serving, optional
- Chili sauce for serving, optional
- Hoisin sauce for serving optional
Boil pork belly in a medium saucepan for 15 minutes. Remove with tongs and allow it to cool. Cut into 1 inch strips.
Peel and cut bang kuang/jicama into matchsticks. Do the same for carrots. Slice cabbage as thinly as possible.
Cut off mushroom stems. Cut caps into thin slices.
Heat a wok or large fry pan. Add vegetable oil. Stir fry onion and garlic for 2 minutes.
Add pork belly, mushrooms, and cuttlefish. Fry for another 2 minutes.
Add bang kuang/jicama, carrots, and cabbage.
Then add dark soy sauce, salt, and pepper.
Continue to stir fry for 15 minutes until vegetables are soft. Sprinkle green onions on the top and transfer to a serving dish.
Spread a little chili and hoisin sauce on a lettuce leaf. Place 2 tablespoons Jiu Hu Char on top of the sauce. Wrap lettuce leaf over jiu hu char and enjoy!
Jiu Hu Char is usually served as a side dish in a traditional Chinese dinner but it can also be served as a lettuce wrap appetizer for a multi course dinner. Since it does take some time to prepare, most families will cook a larger portion for a second or third serving. It is one of those dishes that actually takes better the next day and so cooking a big batch is a good thing. You can also use the leftover as a filling for Fried Popiah (Spring Rolls). Do give it a try.
In case you are wondering, the sauces you see in the pictures are spread on the lettuce before a spoonful of Jiu Hu Char is place on the top as a filling. Over here I use Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce and Hoisin Sauce which are similar to the chili and sweet brown sauce found in Malaysia.