Jiao Cai Hotplate BBQ @ Yuhua – BBQ Seafood That’ll Set Your Buds On Fire
There’s a spread of BBQ dishes found everywhere in our little red dot, but a good sizzling pan of BBQ stingray might just take a few decades to master. Not possible? Mdm Neo has done it. Slogging away what could possibly be a third of her lifetime to deliver remarkable BBQ seafood dishes embodying the Singaporean culture is by no means an easy feat.
At Jiao Cai Hotplate BBQ in Yuhua Village, Mdm Neo gives us a peek to what goes on in her kitchen before the BBQ delicacy gets served on our table. Everyday, she grabs the freshest catch from her usual group of suppliers and brings it back in stall.
The stingray (Small $12, Regular $15, Large $17) is first placed on a grill and covered with a lid to cook long enough for it to retain its moisture. Mdm Neo then moves the stingray to a hotplate placed over a charcoal stove and slabs on their homemade fiery sambal chili over the stingray. The grill sears in the barbeque aroma, right before it’s served to us sizzling hot.
Brace yourself for coughs and watery eyes as the aromatic sambal chili tickles your senses. Mdm Neo contends that their spicy sambal chili is what differentiates their BBQ stingray from other competition, but what goes into the spicy sambal chili remains a secret. I enjoyed peeling off the white chunks of flesh from the stingray, which was succulent and moist.
The BBQ squid (Regular $10, Large $12) is first given a light stir fry, followed by a splash of Mdm Neo’s homemade sauce that consist of basic condiments such as Hua Tiao Jiu and soya sauce. The sotong is then placed on a hotplate, which is again heated over a charcoal stove. Again, Mdm Neo coats the squid with her aromatic sambal chili before being served.
“Grill only for a while, if not the sotong becomes very tough!” Mdm Neo exclaims in Mandarin. Sure enough, she controls the fire well enough to ensure each squid ring is chewy. Unlike the usual sambal squid, we’d notice that Mdm Neo offers a generous portion of the thickly cut squid rings that is worth the price. The stir fried onions gives an added sweetness to the BBQ sotong.
Mdm Neo uses the same spicy sambal sauce to whip up a good plate of stir fried kang kong with garlic (Regular $6, Large $8). Get a whiff of the garlic-sambal aroma before digging into the greens. If you prefer it to be less spicy, just inform Mdm Neo and she’ll adjust the spiciness for you.
The spicy savoury combination is best paired with their homemade cinchalok to give that perfect balance to each dish. Though the shrimp paste has a more watery texture than usual, I assure you of it’s amazing sweet, tangy flavors. Mdm Neo reveals that one of the key ingredients used in her almost perfect cinchalok is freshly squeezed lime juice, which she prepares by hand every morning.
If you’re lucky, you can get a glimpse of a young man helping out Mdm Neo. 25 years old Zijie is the son of Mdm Neo. After quitting his corporate job, he took an interest in the art of BBQ seafood as inspired by his mother. Currently, he is undergoing training by Mdm Neo herself.
Jiao Cai Hotplate BBQ
Address: Yuhua Village Food Centre, 254 Jurong East Street 24 #01-24, Singapore 600254
Opening Hours: 5pm to 10pm daily, Closed on Tuesdays.
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