I’d never seen oxtails until the butcher had some a few weeks ago. I had to give them a go and the only thing I knew about them was they needed very slow cooking. I have to say though, I think this might be one of my favourite things I’ve cooked for a long time.
I adapted a slow-cooked Chinese beef recipe I remembered from somewhere. I guess red wine, shallots and mushrooms would have been a good alternative approach.
It is a bit of a faff so probably one for the weekend but it’s worth it. Using something like shin of beef or pork shoulder would have made it a lot easer and wouldn’t have altered the end result too much.
Start by rolling the oxtails in flour and browning them in a casserole. Take them out and set them aside for a bit. They don’t look particularly appetising at this point.
Fry a diced onion and carrot in the pot until soft then add a good shake of five-spice powder (probably about three teaspoons). Pour in a tablespoon of soy sauce, the same of oyster sauce and about teaspoon of sesame oil. Cook this out for a few minutes then add a star anise – the magic ingredient in this as it gives is such a rich depth of flavour.
Put the oxtails back into the pan and cover with beef stock. This then goes in the oven at 170 degC for three hours, turning the oxtails over a couple of times during the cooking. The meat should be ready to fall off the bone by then.
This is the fiddly bit now as you need to take the oxtails out of the sauce and pull the meat off them. I went at them with a pair of forks, just pulling the meat away in chunks. Seemed to work.
Strain the sauce through a sieve, pushing down on the veg to get all the flavour out. Return it to the casserole on the stove top and skim off any fat from the surface. Add the meat back into the sauce and simmer on a low gas for about half an hour to reduce and thicken.
In the last five minutes I added some chopped pak choi to add a bit of crunch to the finished dish. Serve up with beansprouts and noodles dressed with a little sesame oil and soy sauce.
I shouldn’t say it myself really, but it’s pretty awesome!