Not many people in America are familiar with Ox Tail (available at East Asian grocery stores or from specialty butchers) as a cooking ingredient even though it is common in a lot of other cultures. It is most commonly used in Jamaica, the Basque region, Latin-America and Asia. Ox Tail is best used in stews or soups because of when it is cooked the bone marrow creates a great base for the broth. Although I had never eaten it while growing up in India (I come from a Hindu family where beef was forbidden) but my husband tells me that his family had a special ox tail soup recipe that was commonly during the cold winter months! I discovered it during my stay in Indonesia and instantly loved it. So, of course, I went looking for a recipe and after several test runs, I have finalized it down to this one. Be adventurous, try it
1. 2 lbs. of ox tail
2. 3-4 celery stalks
3. 1-2 inch nub of fresh ginger
4. 2-3 shallots
5. 2-3 carrots
6. 6-7 cloves
7. One piece of nutmeg
8. One piece of star anise
9. 8-10 peppercorns (I used the multi-colored ones)
10. One stalk of lemongrass
11. One teaspoon of salt (add more if needed)
12. 2-3 hard-boiled eggs
13. One green lime
14. 2-3 small tomatoes
15. Some springs of fresh cilantro
16. Two cups of boiled jasmine rice
17. Sriracha sauce
18. 3-4 tablespoons of fried shallots (available at Asian stores)
1. Wash the pieces of ox tails.
2. Boil a pot of water and place the ox tail pieces to it and bring to a boil.
3. Drain all the water out and set the ox tail pieces aside (this process removes gunk from the broth and keeps it clear and looking appetizing).
4. Peel and cut the shallots, carrots, celery stalks, ginger and lemongrass in large chunks.
5. Add 8 cups of water to a crock pot and add the ox tail pieces and all the veggies to the pot and set the pot on low heat and switch the pot on for 5 hours.
6. Add salt, peppercorns, nutmeg, star anise, and cloves to the pot and close it.
7. Let the pot do the cooking for 5-6 hours (I keep it on overnight) or till the pieces of meat are falling off the bone.
8. Remove the spices (nutmeg, star anise and cloves from the soup) – if you prefer you can tie them down in a little bag of cheesecloth which is easier to fish out later.
9. Also remove the nub of ginger, lemongrass stalk and all the mushed veggies from the broth (as much as you can).
10. The soup tends to have a high fat content and so to remove the fat from it, I refrigerate it for a few hours and use a spoon to remove the fat that congeals on top.
11. I reheat the soup in a pot and serve it with the following toppings: hard-boiled eggs, boiled sticky rice (preferably jasmine rice), some fresh lime juice, sliced fresh tomato, Sriracha sauce (if you can handle the spice), some fresh cilantro and fried shallots on top. I also like to add some sweet soy sauce (Kecap Manis) to mine but others in my family prefer it without it.