“Red cooking” is a Chinese braising technique using a mixture of soy sauce, rice wine, broth, and spices, particularly star anise. Good-quality soy sauce, when long braised, will take on a deep red cast-thus the name. Trim some of the ham’s exterior fat for a leaner dish.
- 2 cups reduced-sodium, fat-free chicken broth
- 3/4 cup soy sauce (regular or reduced sodium)
- 3/4 cup Shaoxing wine or dry sherry
- 2/3 cup julienned peeled fresh ginger (see Notes)
- 1½ tablespoons honey
- 12 medium scallions, cut into 2-inch pieces
- 4 medium garlic cloves, sliced into thin slivers
- Four 4-inch cinnamon sticks
- 2 or 3 star anise pods
- One 4½-to 5-pound bone-in fresh ham, rind removed
- 4 cups jarred roasted chestnuts
1. Stir the broth, soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, ginger, honey, scallions, garlic, cinnamon sticks, and star anise pods in a large saucepan-large enough to accommodate the ham and still be covered tightly, but not so large that the ham sits too far out of the liquid, which should come about a third of the way up the meat.
2. Set the ham into the broth mixture, then bring it all to a low simmer over medium-high heat.
3. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer slowly for 2½ hours, turning the ham in the liquid about every 30 minutes. During the first hour, skim off any foam or impurities that might scum the broth’s surface.
4. Skim the sauce one more time; then toss in the chestnuts, cover, and continue simmering slowly until the ham is meltingly tender, 1 to 1½ hours more, turning the ham every so often so the meat stays moist. An instant-read meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the ham without touching bone should register 170°F.
5. Transfer the ham to a cutting board and let it stand at room temperature for 15 minutes. Discard the cinnamon sticks and the star anise pods. (Some pods may have broken apart, so you’ll have to go fishing.) Cut the ham into thin slices, then serve in bowls with the broth and vegetables spooned over the slices, about like a soup with ham slices in it.
This recipe serves 8.