The weather finally turned Autumn-ish but I’ve already started on cold weather dishes. I was rummaging around in the freezer for some inspiration and noticed I had a package of oxtails I completely forgot about. How could this happen? I love oxtail so needless to say it was a happy discovery. Kind of like when you find money in your pocket that you forgot you had.
I was in the mood for braised oxtail stew so I went digging for my mom’s recipe. It’s a Chinese braised oxtail stew and very similar to Kirk’s braised oxtail recipe. The only bummer about this recipe is that it is made the day before you eat it since it needs to rest overnight in the fridge. But if desperate, and I was seriously thinking about skipping the overnight rest, you could just eat it the same day. But with many braised dishes, waiting to the next day always seems to taste so much better. In the process of preparing the oxtail, for some reason the liquid turned out way too salty for me. I think it’s because I’m so used to using reduced-salt soy sauce that the saltiness of regular soy sauce become overpowering now. Kind of like drinking diet soda for years and regular soda being too sweet.
Anyway, so instead of continuing with my Mom’s recipe for braised oxtail, which would have made the dish even more salty after reducing down the liquid, I changed plans in the middle and decided to make soup instead. For the oxtail stew, reduce the amount of broth by 2 cups from the following recipe. I’ve included the carrots and potatoes for the stew part but you can certainly include this as part of the soup. The cellophane (mung bean) noodles are for the soup, which I think is great in this dish.
Makes 3-4 servings
- 4 to 5 pounds oxtails, cut into pieces, fat trimmed
- Kosher salt and ground black pepper
- 2 to 4 tablespoons Canola oil
- 3 dried red chili peppers, cut into 1/2-inch lengths (more or less to taste)
- 4 garlic cloves, crushed
- 2 scallions, white part cut into 1” lengths, green parts sliced diagonally reserved for garnish
- 2/3 cup Shaoxing rice wine (or dry sherry)
- 3/4 cup soy sauce
- 4 cups low-sodium beef or chicken stock (use only 2 cups if making stew)
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar (Mom used yellow rock sugar but I didn’t have any)
- 2 star anise
- 6 slices of 1” thick fresh ginger
- 4 pieces of dried orange peel
- 4-5 shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, rehydrated if dried (optional)
- 2 large carrots, diced (optional, for next day)
- 2 small potato, peeled and diced (optional, for next day)
- 1-2 oz cellophane noodles per person, depending on how much noodles each person likes (for next day)
- Baby bok choy and/or bean sprouts or other greens (optional, for next day)
Season oxtails with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoon of oil in a Dutch oven or heavy bottom pot. Brown oxtails on all sides, working in batches if needed and removing pieces when browned. Add more oil as needed.
When all the oxtail have browned, pour off extra fat from the pot and reheat pot over high heat. Add dried chili and cook for 1 minute. Add garlic, ginger and white parts of scallion and cook for another minute until fragrant, Add wine and bring to a boil, scraping up browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Add soy sauce, stock, sugar, star anise and orange peels. If you don’t have dried orange peel, you could use fresh orange peel as a substitute. I remember my Mom doing this many times. Bring everything to a boil. Reduce heat to low and return oxtails to pot. Cover and simmer for 3-4 hours, depending on how tender you like your oxtail. Like Kirk, I like mine to still have some texture to it and I like gnawing the meat and cartilage off the bones. Stir occasionally, making sure to turn over the oxtails to get even cooking. Once oxtails are at the desired tenderness (for me, it was around 3.5 hours), remove from heat and let cool.
Once completely cooled, cover pot and refrigerate overnight.
The next day, soak cellophane noodles in warm water.
Remove pot from refrigerator. Skim any fat on surface of sauce and discard. There was a decent amount in mine even though I had trimmed the oxtails before browning. Warm sauce on medium-low heat until it becomes liquid again. Remove the oxtails. Strain the liquid to remove all the bits. Return the liquid to the pot and turn the heat to medium. Add shiitake mushrooms, carrots and potato if using. I only used mushrooms this time. Return the oxtails to pot. Simmer gently for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. If making stew, turn heat to high and cook for another 10-15 minutes to thicken the sauce.
For soup, drain softened cellophane noodles, add to pot and cook for another 5 minutes or so. If adding bok choy and bean sprouts or other greens, add them with the noodles and cook until desired tenderness.
Here’s a better shot of the oxtail, yum yum yum. This was so good I’ve made it another 2 times since. Kind of nice for the recent drop in temperature.
Before wrapping up, I want to apologize to email subscribers and twitter followers who were inundated with several repeats of a post this past week. I was playing around with wordpress’ dashboard and managed to tweak something that caused a few hiccups. Good thing I had backed some things up. Oops. So my sincere apologies and hope you’ll forgive me for the extra unintentional intrusion.
Hope everyone is having a good week. Rain predicted taper off by tonight and the rest of the week is suppose to dry out.