By Request
Betty Shimabukuro

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Oxtails have a
worldly reputation

Once upon a time, oxtails really came from oxen. Now they pretty much come from beef cattle. They really are tails, although packaged neatly in the market they don't look the part. But stand several bony segments in a line and pretend they're covered with skin -- you could imagine a tail.

OK, that was probably too much detail.

Oxtails are used in many cuisines, dating to times when nothing in an animal was wasted. They lend themselves to braising, and usually end up in slow-cooked soups and stews.

A Basque recipe calls for a two-hour simmer in red wine and beef stock, with carrots, onion, celery, garlic and shallots. In Italy, you might find them cooked in tomato sauce. In Vietnam, with star anise and fish sauce. Filipino kare kare adds tomatoes, peanut butter and annatto.

The version we consider "local," is usually an Asian-style mix with ginger, star anise and sometimes whiskey. Peanuts are normally required as well. While pasta is a common accompaniment in Italy and rice noodles in Vietnam, around here it's plain white rice.

Debby Di Bella is a fan of the version she sampled at a Prince Court buffet. The Prince has been particularly generous lately, provided us with coconut cake and baked oyster recipes in the last few weeks. This comes from the Prince Golf Club's Bird of Paradise restaurant.

The important thing to remember about oxtails is to skim the broth often during cooking. This reduces the greasiness and residue.

Oxtail Soup

5 to 6 pounds oxtails
1 15-ounce can chicken broth
1 15-ounce can beef broth
3 pieces star anise
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon pepper
3-inch piece ginger, smashed
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound shelled, unsalted peanuts
» Suggested condiments: Grated ginger, blanched choi sum, cilantro sprigs

Place oxtails a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Strain and rinse.

Return oxtails to pot. Add chicken and beef broths, plus enough water to cover oxtails. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat. Add star anise, bay leaves, pepper, ginger and garlic. Simmer 2-1/2 to 3 hours, until oxtails are tender. Skim fat throughout the cooking process.

In the last half hour, add peanuts. Serve with condiments. Serves 10.

Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 400 calories, 33 g total fat, 10 g saturated fat, 40 mg cholesterol, 350 mg sodium, 10 g carbohydrates, 3 g fiber, 2 g sugar, 18 g protein.

Nutritional analyses by Joannie Dobbs, Ph.D., C.N.S.

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