This one along with Portuguese Bean Soup and Chicken Hekka will complete my "trilogy" of old-school local kine dishes. The "local kine" version of Oxtail Soup with the use of ginger, citrus peel, and star anise is undoubtedly Chinese in origin. In fact, when I make this, the Missus will always remind me that the scents involved remind Her of China. It sure does warm you up on a cold day.....
There's a major difference between what I make and the traditional clear broth Oxtail soup. Many years ago, I was doing sales work. Part of the job was helping these Mom and Pop markets and superettes do inventory. It was basically done during nights and weekends. At the end of the process, we'd be fed, and the food was provided in pretty large quantities, as the poke and deli cases would be emptied, and several hot dishes would be provided. At one of those markets, one of the owner's Father, an elderly Chinese Man made some killer Pig's Feet and Oxtail Soup. It was on the dark side and full of flavor. After downing two large bowls of the stuff, I mentioned how much I loved the Oxtail Soup. The old man put his hand to the side of his mouth and stage whispered; "it's nothing, just shoyu(soy sauce), whiskey, and sesame oil." I've made my soup with shoyu ever since then.
As for some of the details; I trim about two-thirds of the excess fat off the oxtails. I also do a quick blanching of the oxtails, followed by a rinse to remove blood, and other impurities. In the place of whiskey, I add Shao-sing wine (drinking quality). I garnish with cilantro and scallions, with a dish of grated ginger and shoyu. I also place some chopped greens in the bottom of the bowl before ladling in the soup. I like the mild bitterness and the crunchy texture that the greens add to the dish.
I also rest the soup overnight, this allows the flavors to set. I can also skim off excess fat, controlling the oil in the broth. I place the carrots in the broth right before removing it from heat. The residual heat will cook the carrots, the lack of a boiling motion will allow the carrots to keep it's shape. As for simmering time, it's usually 2-3 hours. I like my oxtails soft, but not disintegrating into a zillion little pieces.
This might sound like a lot of work, but like everything I make, it is pretty easy. As always, feel free to adjust to taste. Some folks want a clear broth Oxtail Soup, so refrain from adding the shoyu and wine. If you like more ginger, go for it, and so forth.
2 cloves garlic smashed
2 pieces dried citrus peel
1/2 Cup premium soy sauce
1/3 Cup Shao-sing wine
3-4 carrots chopped
Salt to taste
A Dash of White Pepper
Sesame Oil to taste
chopped mustard or similar greens (optional)
Garnishes - scallions, cilantro, a small dish of grated ginger and soy sauce.
- Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add oxtails and par-boil briefly. Empty the pot into a large colander and rinse the blanched oxtail under running water.
- Place oxtails in a pot and cover with cold water to about 4 inches over the oxtails
- Bring the oxtails to a boil, and skim off the scum and foam.
- Add peanuts, onion, ginger, garlic, citrus peel, and star anise.
- Bring the soup back up to a simmer. Add soy sauce, wine, and a dash of white pepper.
- Simmer for 2-3 hours until oxtails are tender, but not falling into pieces.
- Remove from heat, add carrots and let cool.
- Taste and add salt, sesame oil, and more soy sauce if desired.
- When the soup has cooled, place in the refrigerator overnight.
- Before heating, skim off fat to your desired taste.
- The soup should be piping hot when served. When heating be sure to check and adjust flavor.
- Place greens, if using on the bottom of the bowl, and ladle soup out.
- Garnish with cilantro and scallions.