This Soy and Calamansi Glazed Ham would be the most perfect centrepiece for Christmas lunch this year. The glaze is made with Asian-inspired flavours and glistens over the ham. Think fresh kaffir lime leaves, ginger, star anise, ginger and soy with the lovely flavour of calamansi. This recipe is absolutely phenomenal and I can vouch that it’s a total crowd pleaser!
Until last year, the very thought of cooking a ham at Christmas lunch was so intimidating and overwhelming to me. I’m usually the one who comfortably brings dessert! But last year, I got it in my head that I wanted to try making a ham. I looked through ten years of hoarded Donna Hay magazines to find a recipe. I brainstormed ingredients that sounded appealing – brown sugar, golden syrup, pineapple, marmalade, ginger beer.
I’m usually not one to measure out ingredients when I make savoury dishes, so I’m very glad I had the foresight to write down my glaze recipe. I kept that scrappy piece of paper for a whole year and cooked it again recently. Just confirming – yep, it’s still amazing. I just knew that I had to share the recipe for my Soy and Calamansi Glazed Ham here on the blog this year.
I’ve talked about Calamansi before – the delicious citrus fruit that is widely used in Filipino and South-East Asian cuisine. I’m lucky enough to have a calamansi tree in the backyard, but you can buy calamansi juice or concentrate from some Asian grocery stores. If you can’t find it, I’d say a combination of orange and lime juice will give you a similar flavour. I also used a Calamansi-infused soy sauce to really pump up the flavour. If you can’t find it, just use regular soy sauce or tamari.
Making the Soy and Calamansi Glaze
The glaze honestly couldn’t be simpler to make! All the ingredients just go into a saucepan and simmer away until they thicken up. You can also make the glaze up to 3 days before you want to serve your ham and store it in the fridge. This is a nice little time management hack to get ahead of your Christmas cooking prep!
The sweetness in the glaze comes from the brown sugar, which caramelises as it cooks. I’ve used whole star anise, cinnamon sticks, fresh grated ginger and Chinese five spice. I also love using fresh kaffir lime leaves – they smell so good and impart such a lovely flavour.
The other ingredients are rice wine vinegar, the calamansi juice and soy, plus a touch of spiced rum, because why not! I didn’t add any salt and pepper because between the saltiness of the ham and the soy sauce, the flavour was spot on and the Chinese five spice contains pepper anyway! Also, feel free to try this glaze on other kinds of meat, and even tofu or pumpkin!
Preparing your Ham
Before you glaze and cook your ham, there’s a little prep work that must be done. Firstly, you need to trim off the rind, but KEEP the layer of fat underneath. To do this, cut a line or criss-cross at the shank/small end of the ham and then carefully slip a small sharp knife between the rind and fat to gently remove it. If you anticipate having a lot of leftovers, you can keep the rind and place this over the remaining ham to store it.
Once the rind is removed, carefully score the fat down to the meat layer, in a diamond pattern, following the shape of the ham. As it cooks, this creates lots of nooks and crannies for the glaze to accumulate and add flavour. Plus the fat becomes crisp and absolutely delicious. Many recipes say to decorate the ham with whole cloves but I have used Chinese five spice in my glaze, which gives a ton of flavour without having to pick the cloves out or accidentally crunch down on one later on.
Cooking your Ham
I used a small picnic ham, which comes from the front leg/shoulder, weighing about 3kg. Depending on how many people you’re catering for, you may need a much larger leg ham, which can be between 5-8kg. Of course the cooking time will vary depending on the size you get. A bone-in ham will have the best flavour. I baked mine for about 60 minutes, and basted with extra glaze every 20 minutes or so until it was heated through and golden brown. The more glaze the better, and do make sure you’re getting it into all those criss-cross diamonds.
I served the ham with a couple of delicious side dishes. I roasted some homegrown carrots with a little maple syrup and blanched broccolini with a little crispy chorizo scattered over top. And of course there was a huge pan of creamy, cheesy potato gratin.
The leftover ham also makes the most epic sandwiches ever, especially with a homemade chutney. I guess making the ham is my Christmas contribution from here on in and I don’t mind at all. Turning this into a life lesson – sometimes the things you anticipate to be intimidating turn out even more incredible than you thought.
And lastly, if you make this Soy and Calamansi Glazed Ham or any of my other Christmas recipes, please let me know here in the comments or over on Instagram. Please take a pic and tag me @spicyicecream. I absolutely love to see your photos of the recipes you’ve made!
Soy and Camalansi Glazed Ham
This Soy and Calamansi Glazed Ham is the perfect centrepiece for Christmas lunch or dinner. The Asian-inspired glaze is absolutely delicious and this dish is perfect to feed a large crowd!
- 1 Picnic or Leg Ham (3-5kg)
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 8 kaffir lime leaves, roughly chopped
- 1/3 cup calamansi juice or concentrate
- 1/3 cup calamansi soy sauce
- 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon Chinese five spice
- 4 star anise
- 1-2 cinnamon sticks or 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
- 1/4 cup spiced rum
To make the glaze, place brown sugar, kaffir lime leaves, calamansi juice, calamansi soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, Chinese five spice, star anise, cinnamon and ginger into a medium saucepan. Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20-30 minutes or until starting to thicken. Add the spiced rum and stir to combine. Cook for a further 5-10 minutes. You can make the glaze up to 3 days in advance and store in the fridge.
To prepare your ham, first remove all packaging. First you will need to remove the layer of rind, leaving behind the fat underneath. Cut a line or criss cross at the shank or small end of the ham and then carefully slip a small, sharp knife under the rind to loosen it from the fat. As mentioned above, if you anticipate having leftovers, you can keep the rind and cover the remaining ham with it for storage in the fridge.
When the rind is completely removed, use your knife to score all the way through the fat layer in a 2.5cm (1 inch) diamond pattern, following the curve/shape of the ham.
Preheat your oven to 160°C (320°F). Line a baking tray with aluminium foil.
Transfer the ham to the baking tray. If you have stored your glaze in the fridge, bring it back to just before boiling point. Using a pastry brush, glaze the ham all over generously. Place into the oven for 20 minutes.
Remove from the oven and glaze again every 20 minutes, rotating the baking tray so it cooks evenly. My 3kg ham took about an hour. Please refer to the cooking time suggested on the packaging of your ham. If your ham is colouring too quickly, you can cover it with some foil to prevent the glaze from burning.
To serve, I like to remove the cooked kaffir lime leaves (optional) and wrap the shank end in some baking paper and add some fresh herbs tied with twine for aesthetic reasons. To carve, pierce the ham with a carving fork and use a carving knife or serrated knife to carve slices, following the grain of the meat. Serve warm or at room temperature.