Sunday, December 21, 2008

Experimental Cooking: Oxtail Soup

I went to the funky international supermarket a while back and picked up some oxtails, so today when I finished the last of my tomato soup I immediately started scheming how to fill my pre-holiday schedule with more leftover soup. I still shudder a bit at the thought of the dog-food taste of some lamb and Guinness stew from a couple of years ago, so I wanted to turn the oxtails into something with a cleaner flavor. Was it a success? Partially.

Pacific Rim Oxtail Soup

Soak 2.5 lbs of oxtails in cold water for an hour, then rinse and boil for 25 minutes. Dump the water, rinse the oxtails, and then refill the pot and bring to a simmer again. I boiled the oxtails for about 3 hours, accompanied by 6-8 halved cloves of garlic, a roughly chopped 2 inch piece of peeled ginger, 1 tbsp of Szechuan peppercorns, and a whole star anise (contained within a mesh basket for easy removal). There was a lot of skimming and adding back water involved in this phase, and one round of straining. Once the oxtails looked tender, I took them out, tossed in 6-8 thinly sliced shiitake mushrooms, shredded the meat from the bones (hot!), chopped the meat, and put it back in, along with some rice stick noodles and thinly sliced rounds of daikon. While the noodles cooked, I chopped up a couple of green onions and a similar quantity of cilantro, threw that in, stirred, and served with a sauce of equal parts soy sauce and grated fresh ginger.

It was kind of bland, so I added a lot of salt. Any thoughts on how to amp this up for next time?

ETA: So much better the next day. Sort of a gelatinous mess, what with the noodles and the stock, but hearty scoop of soup base + water = yum.
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