February 25, 2013

Chinese Jinhua Ham 金華火腿

chinese jinhua jin hua ham

Published: 2013-02-25
This is the best cured ham in the world:  Chinese Jinhua ham, or 金華火腿.  Isn't it beautiful?  Look at that beautiful ruby color!  But wait til you taste it!  Wow! Kazaam!  There's nothing quite like it: dense, chewy, bursting with layers of subtle flavors behind the first hit of salty/sweetness.  We find it in our humble opinion to be even tastier than jamon iberico , that also very delectable and worldwide famous ham from Spain.  Alas the Chinese give up their secret culinary treasures with so much reluctance, even to their own people, as it is very easy to buy Jinhua Ham but much much more difficult to buy quality Jinhua Ham.  As it is with so many Chinese things, you just have to "know" or you have to "know somebody who knows".  Or you can also do it like we do: the time wasting way (according to the Chinese), in other words by a series of trial and error.  There's nothing better to inform you of food quality than your own tongue as long as your palate is in good working order!

chinese jinhua jin hua ham


I would suggest to start looking in your local wet market for a good source.  Just ask around and the vendors will point your way.  Don't go for the supermarket Jinhua hams, I can tell you already that they are only very so-so.  One easy way to tell so-so Jinhua Ham is this:  if the ham is just very salty then it's not very good.  Quality Jin hau Ham is  salty only on the first level (and not too salty at that) and then there are many layers of flavor after the saltiness.There are also some restaurants that sell the whole hock just like in the picture above.  I have seen a whole wall of Jinhua hams at the grand ol' Yung Kee restaurant in Central but haven't tried it as it was too overpriced expensive and also space consuming to buy the whole ham.  I have also seen the Jinhua hams in stores that specialize in the local dried meats like lap cheong , etc. that you can still find in the older neighborhoods around town (you know, where they haven't torn down everything to build monster sized shopping malls and 50 story luxury residence towers).

Once you have good supply, use it for enriching soups and stocks, adding an extra layer of flavour to stir fries, etc.  We also eat the shavings plain to go with a bit o' beer or wine and sometimes between two slices of bread.

Hopefully we'll have posts on some Jinhua Ham dishes soon!  In the meanwhile good Jinhua Ham hunting and eating!

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10 comments:

  1. Hi,
    Can you let me know where you bought your jinhua ham? which market in HK? Do you have the address? thanks.

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  2. Hi Lee,

    We bought this Jin Hua ham at Wah Fung store. It's on Wellington Street in Central. ~ellen

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  3. Hi Ellen,
    Thanks for the reply. The Wah Fung you mentioned is a restaurant? Coz I don't live in HK, but will be going there in end of the month, so would like to buy some during the trip. I google wah fung and it came up with wah fung restaurant in wellingtion street, central. So it is the same? Thanks a lot in advance!

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  4. Hi Lee,

    Yes, Wah Fung (112-114 Wellington Street) has expanded into a restaurant also in the past few years. They serve the traditional cantonese style food on one side of the shop and on the other side continue their usual trade of selling delicious roast bbq meats and of course, jin hua ham. Hope that you have a good trip to Hong Kong!

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  5. Hi Ellen,

    Yes, Yung Kee is very expensive. I recently paid HKD150 for 2 Taels!
    I will check Wah Fung. Also, is it normal if the Jinhua ham is darker than what is shown in your website? I bought one piece from a shop selling cured meat at Central. Thank you

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    Replies
    1. Hi Sharon - Do try Wah Fung, it's our favorite! And the color of Jin hua ham does vary from darker to more red. The key factor is the taste (of course!). ~ellen

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  6. i live in australia and definitely cannot find quality jin hua ham. can you suggest a close substitute please? thank you.

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  7. Hi Phoebe - I remember that my parents used to use Virginia (also known as Smithfield) ham as a substitute for Jin Hua Ham cuz we couldn't get it in the States. Can you find that in Australia? ~ellen

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  8. Recently, I tasted very delectable abalone rice vermecili during the CHinese New Year period in Singapore. Just read its broth is made of Jing Hua Huo Tui, lean chicken and the like. Thank you for your tip on where to look for Jing Hua Ham:)

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    Replies
    1. Your welcome Clare, glad you found us! One other place that we have recently discovered Jin Hua Ham par excellence is Shanghai Lao San Yang 老三陽 in Causeway Bay ~ellen

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