Braised Fresh Ham, Szechwan Style

Feeds a family of 7, easy. For at least 2 meals. Perhaps more if you accompany with rice or steamed bread and LOTS of vegetables. In the Philippines we have a somewhat similar dish called Pata Tim, though that one’s made with pork knuckles or trotters or hocks. I prefer those for deep-frying, as in Filipino crispy pata, but for this I like using fresh ham, the part of the leg that hasn’t been cured or smoked.

Half of a fresh ham (got one from my local farmer, about 6.5 pounds)
4 scallions
5-inch piece ginger
10 large dried shiitake mushrooms
water
3 whole star anise
4 dried cayenne peppers
1 tablespoon Szechwan peppercorns
3/4 cup soy sauce (use wheat-free tamari if you want wheat- or gluten-free)
1/2 cup xiao xing wine
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons salt

Put ham in a large pot and add water to cover by 2 inches. I really would have covered mine with water, but the ham was BIG and came up to about 1 inch from the top of my 7.25-qt. Le Creuset, so I added however much water I could, keeping in mind that as the water boils it will tend to splatter and overflow. I simply turned the meat over a couple of times during cooking to make sure the whole thing cooked evenly.

Add scallions, ginger, mushrooms, star anise, dried cayennes, and Szechwan peppercorns.

Bring to a boil, then skim off whatever scum rises to the surface. Bring down heat to medium and cook 2 hours, turning meat a couple of times as necessary.

Add soy sauce, wine and sugar. Reduce heat to simmer and cook 2 hours more.

Add sesame oil (I forgot to include it in the pic) and salt, give the liquid a good stir and cook over medium heat to reduce liquid to about 1/3 of original amount.

Serve with rice or huajuan (Chinese steamed scallion rolls, recipe coming) and lots of veggies. We like steamed or blanched spinach or bok choy, or anything that’s sprightly green.

It’s a dish that can be easily adapted to a crock pot. You’ll just need smaller pieces of meat.

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