Tender Tails

The Wong’s Oxtail Stew


Yes, it’s true. Asians love to eat just about every part of the animal. But in cultures where meat is spendy and animals are a livelihood, you can’t blame them for not wanting to waste any animal part or by-product. And besides oxtail is such a tasty morsel too. It may be made up of mostly bone and cartilage, but when combined with an assortment of veggies in a soup or stew, it’s a super way to stretch a small amount of very tasty and tender (albeit after hours of cooking) meat. The bones and marrow also produce a very rich and flavorful stock, thanks to the collagen released during cooking which renders the liquid deliciously thick. Oxtail turns tender only after a long simmer on the stove so if you don’t really want to hang out in your kitchen for 4 hours, a crockpot or pressure cooker is your best friend.

Rachel Wong, who got this recipe from her mom, told me to add in “as much ginger as I can handle” so I threw in 2-inches worth. Add more (or less) if you’d like!

Time: 15 minutes (prep) plus 4 hours (cooking)
Makes: 4 to 6 servings

2-1/2 to 3 pounds oxtail, trimmed of fat and joints separated
2-inches fresh ginger, peeled and cut into matchsticks
2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 tablespoons yellow bean sauce or paste
1 tablespoon sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine or dry sherry (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 green onions, finely chopped
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro

In a 4-quart pot or Dutch oven, bring 3 quarts of water to a boil. Throw in oxtail, and bring to a boil again.

Drain water to get rid of fat and return oxtails to pot. Fill pot with just enough water to cover oxtail. Add ginger, dark soy sauce, oyster sauce, bean paste, sugar, wine and pepper, and stir to mix. Cover and simmer over medium-low heat for 3-1/2 to 4 hours until meat is fall-off-the-bone tender.

Transfer to a serving plate and scatter green onions and cilantro all over. Serve with steamed rice or noodles.

Note: Yellow bean sauce, also known as brown bean sauce or broad bean sauce, is basically fermented soy beans (usually a by-product of the soy sauce-making process) mixed with salt and sometimes wheat flour. The mixture can be further mashed up to form a paste. Look for them in plastic bottles or glass jars at the Asian market.