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Tuesday, 3 May 2016

#ewew cooks Fried Turnip with Shredded Dried Cuttlefish

One of my favourite vegetable dish is Fried Turnip with Shredded Dried Cuttlefish...and it's one dish I've seen repeatedly every year at our Chinese New Year reunion dinner table in Ipoh.

A popular Nyonya dish and more commonly known as "jiu hu char", the turnip (aka sengkuang/jiacama/yam bean) is fried with shredded carrot, shiitake mushrooms and dried cuttlefish.

It's not a dish I cook often at home as it involves a lot of cutting work...manually.....to fine threads.  But I have to say that the end result more than makes up for all the hard work! ;)

For this dish, you need just 4 ingredients - turnip, carrot, dried shiitake mushrooms and dried cuttlefish (roughly one medium turnip, 1/2 a carrot, 4 - 5 shiitake mushrooms and a handful of dried cuttlefish).  Again, the quantity of ingredients in relation to one another is not critical, so it can be more or less.  Nowadays, you can buy dried cuttlefish that has already been shredded into fine shreds (so one less thing to shred).  Thinly slice your turnip and carrot and cut them into long, fine strips.  You can (of course) enlist the help of a slicer, shredder or grater to assist you but (don't ask me why) it seems to taste better when shredded the traditional way by hand.  I've eaten those where the turnip is grated and the mixture (being more mushy in texture) didn't taste as good! >.<

Fry the strands of dried cuttlefish in some oil.  Once they turn into a nice golden brown colour, dish up and set aside.

Leave the remaining oil in your pan and throw in the shredded carrot.  Fry for a minute or two until the carrots are slightly softened.  [#Tip: I know some will add strips of finely cut pork belly or minced pork into the mix (like the version cooked in Ipoh for Chinese New Year) but I prefer to omit it in mine as I find the porky flavour (that has seeped into the turnip) changes the taste profile of the dish.]

Add the shiitake mushrooms and some chopped garlic.  I'm using some pre-fried garlic that I have already prepared earlier but you can use fresh garlic, no problem.

The shredded turnip goes in next.  I'd suggest that you use a wide bottom pan so that the vegetables can be spread out in one layer to ensure they get to soften evenly.

Stir-fry for a while before adding the fried cuttlefish (but leave some for garnishing).  Season with salt...and I like to add a dollop of oyster sauce to give the dish a bit of colour.

Simmer on medium-low heat until the turnip is soft (keep adding water bit by bit when you see the liquid drying up).  As to how long you want to simmer depends entirely on how soft you want your turnip to be. Taste, taste, taste until you're satisfied with the seasoning and texture of your turnip.  You can cook it for anything between 10 - 20 minutes.

I cooked mine for 20 minutes coz I like them really soft.  And there you have it....my Fried Turnip with Shredded Dried Cuttlefish is ready!

Plate up and sprinkle the remaining fried cuttlefish on top :)

It can be eaten wrapped in fresh lettuce leaves (like how my husband's family would eat it during Chinese New Year or how it's served at some Nyonya restaurants).  It goes extremely well with rice too.  It's one of those dishes where the flavour gets better overnight or after multiple reheating.  That's why it's a popular dish to cook for Chinese New Year.

The dried cuttlefish is the single most important ingredient if you want to make a killer jiu hu char.....it gives it that salty, fragrant aroma and taste.  The other key factor is how well or how fine you can julienne the turnip...hehe! :P

This is a dish (I feel) you can replicate at home to a high degree of success! ;)  It also doubles up as a good base for a fried popiah filling (just make sure to fry the filling until dry or, alternatively, drain away the liquid).  You may want to add some fried taufu bits, omelette strips and taugeh (beansprouts) to take the popiah filling up a notch.

15 comments:

  1. I was wondering if you used a machine to shred those veggies so perfectly... but reading on I see you've done it by hand! You have some masterful knife skills. ;-)

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    1. I'd probably rate my knife skills as "intermediate"...no where near master level....haha! I just shred mine at a slower pace but it can still be done.

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  2. No, this is not my favorite dish. In fact, it is one of my un-favorite dish. So I won't bother reading the recipe. :/

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    1. This is not a recipe for "lazy man" cooking. Since you don't like this dish, I'd assume you don't like to eat fried popiah too as it's the base ingredient for the filling.

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    2. You assume right, I'm not very much into fried popiah too. Those non-fried ones that we get in pasar though, I am okay with those, because they have awesome sweet sauce and chili sauce to complement things. :P

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  3. Oh, I love this! I can eat by the bowlfuls :) Funny that I never attempted jiu hu char. OK, dried cuttlefish is on my grocery list.

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    1. Yes, dried cuttlefish is a staple ingredient in my fridge, both the whole and shredded ones. I too can eat bowls of this as a meal replacement...if only I can shred more! :D

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  4. Looks very tasty. Now they just need some deep fried dough cups to put them in to make top hats or pie tee. Where do you buy the dried cuttlefish that has already been shredded into fine shreds? Any brand?

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    1. Oh, too much work to make the top hats too (these I'll eat at restaurants).

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  5. this is one more dish that my grandmother and aunts sometimes made at home when i was very young. reading this, i realised that i never appreciated how much work they put into preparing this for the family ...

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    1. Because I've made this before, I know just how much work goes into the shredding. That's why I don't make it very often :)

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  6. the dried squid definitely contribute much of the fragrance of this dish but where to get shredded dried squid? >_<

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    1. Oh, you can get the shredded dried cuttlefish from stalls selling dried foodstuff in wet markets.

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  7. when my brother cooked this he adds a bit of miso for extra kick!

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    1. Can meh? ;D I wonder what it tastes like.

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