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!
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
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!
More Local Foods at The Hong Kong Cookery:
Lotus Leaf Steamed Chicken 荷葉蒸雞
Steamed Salted Sun Dried Fish 蒸南倉鹽鮮魚
Steamed Chinese Preserved Duck Leg 蒸臘鴨腿 Google