If you are looking for elegance, look somewhere else. If you are looking for subtlety pass by, my friend. This dish is not such a preparation, it’s like being hit in the face with the all ingredients from an Oriental grocery store, all at once. Don’t get me wrong, it is delicious and you won’t regret making it. Just be prepared for a flavour explosion in your face.
Now, if you are still with me, you can either read on or take a look at the little video I prepared earlier.
- 1 oxtail, cut into thick pieces
- A large tin of water chestnuts
- 500 ml good beef stock
- 2 large onions
- 1 large piece of ginger root
- 1 bulb of garlic
- 3-4 pieces of star anise
- A few black peppercorns
- 1 red chilli
- Teaspoon of chilli flakes
- 1 tablespoon black vinegar
- 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons light soy sauce
- 1/2 tablespoon of brown sugar
- Flour for dusting
- Oil for frying
- Green end of spring onions to serve
- Rice to accompany
Dust the beef with seasoned flour. Add a little oil to a casserole dish and brown the beef on all sides. While this is doing, chop the onions into nice chunky pieces. When the beef is browned, remove and reserve.
Add in the onions and sweat them down over a medium heat, adding a little water if needed. While the onions are cooking, cut the ginger into thin slices, slice the chilli lengthways and peel the bulb of garlic. When the onions are near translucent, add in the dry ingredients (bar the beef and water chestnuts) and stir to combine and to get the flavours releasing. When there is a heady aroma in the kitchen, add the stock, the soy sauces and black vinegar. Bring this to a simmer. Then add the beef. Bring this back to a simmer and transfer to the oven. Cook it covered at 170ºC/340ºF for four hours or so. At the halfway stage, take it out of the oven and skim the excess fat from the surface.
At this point, Add the water chestnuts. Stir them in. Return this to the oven. You will know that the cooking time is completed when the meat is not quite falling off the bones when poked with a fork. Remove the beef and the chestnuts from the cooking liquid. Strain the liquid and remove any further unwanted fat. Return the sauce to the casserole. Add back the beef and chestnuts. Simmer this without a lid until the sauce thickens nicely. Use some cornflour in water to help it along if needed.
Serve this to hungry diners over some nice Thai fragrant rice, not forgetting to sprinkle with some chopped spring onion greens. This really packs a flavour punch. It is an intense umami slap in the chops. Go for it!