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Anhui Turtle with Ham

Unusual Ingredients

Anhui Turtle with Ham
1 softshell turtle (no more than two pounds)
1 scallion, tied in a knot
2 slices fresh ginger, peel left on, ginger scored on both sides of each slice
2 Tablespoons Chinese rice wine
6 medium size Chinese black mushrooms, soaked for half an hour, their stems discarded
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
4 scallions, cut into one-inch pieces
8 cloves fresh garlic, peeled
2 Tablespoons white rock sugar
2 Tablespoons peeled minced fresh ginger
3 Tablespoons thin soy sauce
3 Tablespoons chicken stock
1 Tablespoon Chinese white vinegar
1 Tablespoon tomato paste or ketchup
1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper
3 Tablespoon Yunnan (or Smithfield) ham, minced
2 Tablespoons water chestnut flour mixed with three tablespoons cold water
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1. Head removed and discarded, then cut in half. Its soft material under shell scraped away and discarded, then blanched for two minutes, that water discarded, as well.
2. Put turtle in deep bowl with knotted scallion, slices of fresh ginger, and rice wine, and steam these together over rapidly boiling water for fifteen to twenty minutes (the longer time if about two pounds, the shorter time if one and a half pounds); then remove from steamer and discard anything other than the turtle, and chop the turtle into three-inch pieces.
3. Heat oil and fry scallion pieces and whole garlic cloves for two minutes, be sure they do not burn, then add the turtle, the whole mushrooms, rock sugar, minced ginger, soy sauce and chicken stock, also the vinegar, tomato paste or ketchup, and the ground white pepper. Stir this well, but gently until all ingredients are well-mixed, then reduce heat and simmer for five minutes or until all liquid is absorbed.
4. Add ham and cornstarch mixture, and stir until thickened and the sauce is clear before putting everything into a pre-heated serving bowl. Sprinkle with the sesame oil, and serve.

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