Apr 6, 2023

Braised Chinese Cabbage with Jinhua Ham 金華火腿煨白菜

Trying to think of a way to utilize the Jinhua ham I have in the freezer. While making chicken soup is the most common way to use Jinhua ham, this time around, let's use such Chinese delicacy for a braised vegetable dish.

Braised Chinese cabbage with Jinhua ham 金華火腿煨白菜 - 

Braised Chinese cabbage with Jinhua ham


  • Half Chinese cabbage/napa cabbage
  • 1 small chunk/about 120 grams Jinhua ham
  • 5 cups chicken stock
  • Some white pepper powder
  • Some corn starch and water mixture
  • Some salt (if needed)


Trim the bottom of the Chinese cabbage then cut the remaining part to big pieces. Bring a big pot of water to a boil then add in the Chinese cabbage. 

Pre-cooking Chinese cabbage/napa cabbage

Bring to a boil again and just let it cook for about a minute. Drain and set aside for later use.

While working on the Chinese cabbage, prepare a smaller pot of water on the side. Bring to a light boil then add in the Jinhua ham, cook for about a minute.

Remove the ham and use the back of the knife to "scrape" the surface all around. Some Jinhua ham will release some grayish bits, remove that before going into the main braising process.

Cleaning Jinhua ham with the back of the knife

Use a big pot again, pour in 5 cups of chicken stock and transfer cleaned ham over. Bring to a boil then lower the heat to keep it at a light bubbling stage. Continue to cook this way for 40 minutes.

Prepping soup stock with Jinhua ham

Transfer prepped Chinese cabbage over and bring the entire thing to a boil again. 

Cooking Chinese cabbage in Jinhua ham infused chicken stock

Once boiling, adjust the heat to keep it at a light bubbling stage. Continue to cook for 40 more minutes.

Towards the end, taste and adjust with salt if needed. Usually Jinhua ham will release a good amount of savory salty flavor to the dish, so no extra salt is needed. I didn't use any here. Also flavor the pot with a tiny pinch of white pepper powder.

Switch to low heat and pick out the Jinhua ham. You can leave out the ham, or slice some ham to thin strips for garnish in the end. 

Once the temperature drops a little, pour in some corn starch and water mixture while stirring the pot at the same time to prevent clumping. Just a light touch here, we want the texture to be on the soupy but velvety side, not the gooey thickened consistency.

Plate and serve the braised Chinese cabbage as it is, or garnish the top with some Jinhua ham strips.

Braised Chinese cabbage with Jinhua ham

You might find the taste quite familiar. That's because Jinhua ham is used in many Chinese restaurants. Chefs will use the ham to braise the soup stock, sometimes serve the soup directly, and quite often infuse such flavorful soup to many other Chinese dishes for a umami boost. 


Braised Chinese cabbage with Jinhua ham

The 120 grams of Jinhua ham I've used here is still slightly too big for my regular use, and such size usually is on the smaller side sold on the market already. It's not like we are making a big pot of soup that needs bigger piece of ham to work with all the time. Plus with just a small chunk of Jinhua ham can release so much flavor and saltiness to the dish.  

Braised Chinese cabbage with Jinhua ham

I would suggest that you can ask the vendor when purchasing Jinhua ham, see if they can cut to even smaller pieces then vacuum packaging for you. It'll definitely save some headaches down the road even if they ask for a slight service charge.

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