Friday, September 5, 2014

Chinese Oxtail Stew

Most cuisines hold oxtails in high regard. The large amount of gelatin makes an oxtail stew that is rich, thick and pleasant.  In my youth, oxtails were a bargain food but due to high demand, today come at a premium. I first fell in love with this dish in Redwood City, California when I used to work on that side of the Bay area.
Because the Chinese pride themselves for proper food preparation, the large oxtails are cut in half or even quarters making them manageable.
Across the world, cinnamon, allspice, lemongrass, tangerine or orange rind, star anise, and fennel often show up in oxtail recipes. Other ingredients include beef stock, beer, port, or red wine. Any of these spices or ingredients will provide interesting and tasty variations.

            5 Pounds oxtails, big pieces sawn3 in half
4 Tablespoons peanut oil
1 Cup Shaoxing2 rice wine or dry sherry
1/4 Cup soy sauce
2 Tablespoon mushroom soy
2 Tablespoon black soy4
2 Tablespoon brown sugar
1 Tablespoon black vinegar
8 Whole cloves
1 Spanish onion, chopped
1 ½ Tablespoon minced ginger
4 Cloves minced garlic
Crushed red pepper
Sea salt and white pepper

Scallions, sliced diagonally
Chopped cilantro
Fresh sliced cremini1 mushrooms, sautéed in butter

Preheat  broiler to high.

Rub oxtails with olive oil. Brown oxtails in sheet pan with a lip. Turn pieces with thongs.
When evenly browned, rinse pieces in boiling water and drain.

Preheat oven to 300 F.

Place drained meat in Dutch oven with a tight fitting lid. Add wine, soy, vinegar, chopped onion, ginger, garlic, red pepper, white pepper, cloves, and sugar. Add additional liquid such as beer, beef or veal stock or water to bring up a braising liquid.  Bring to a boil over medium heat.

Cover and braise 2 ½ hours or more until oxtails are very tender. Keep an eye on liquid level, replenish as necessary.  Refrigerate overnight to skim the fat. Reheat in Dutch oven at 350F with a cracked lid so sauce may thicken. Heat until hot.  Correct the seasonings.

Serve over steamed white jasmine rice. Garnish servings.

  1. Use Chanterelle mushrooms if you can get them
  2. Shaoxing wine is one of the most famous varieties of huangjiu, or traditional Chinese wines, fermented from rice. It originates from the region of Shaoxing, in the Zhejiang province of eastern China. It is widely used as both a beverage and a cooking wine in Chinese cuisine. (Wikipedia)
  3. Your butcher can easily do this provided the oxtails are frozen at the time so order ahead.
  4. Black Soy Sauce – Siew Dam - This is a rich and thick sauce, made by fermenting soy sauce with sugar or molasses. Black in color and thick like a light syrup in its consistency, it has a delightful flavor and is used as much to add sweetness as saltiness.
  5. Chinese black vinegar is a dark complex vinegar made of glutinous rice and malt somewhat similar to a balsamic used in Chinese stir-frys, braises and sauces. Black vinegar is from the Chinkiang Province of China.

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