My first foray into cooking with oxtails came just a couple of weeks ago when I adapted for my handy-dandy pressure cooker a recipe from the New York Times by David Chang, the famously meat-adoring chef of the Momofuku mini-empire. His (actually, his mother’s) Korean-style soup, hearty with chunks of daikon, was an unqualified winner, and I decided to give oxtails another go this past weekend.
This time around, I played fast-and-loose with the ingredients and ended up with quite a different soup altogether. Not better, not worse (I don’t think), just different. I flavored the broth with ginger and star anise and brought fresh shiitake and tofu to the party. I don’t know what it is at this point—I mean, I don’t think you could call it Korean anymore—but even if it is sort of a pan-Asian mish-mash of flavors, it did hit the spot. Oxtails make a lovely rich broth, and this soup is thick with mushrooms and jiggly squares of tofu. Put it on the menu when you’re hankering for a real belly-warmer. Serve with rice, or cook up some rice noodles to go in each serving.
OXTAIL SOUP WITH SHIITAKE AND TOFU
1 oxtail, cut up (about 2 1/2 pounds)
1 large onion, quartered
1/2 pound fresh cleaned shiitake, stems separated and caps sliced
3 cloves garlic, peeled
2 slices ginger (about 1/4-inch thick)
1 whole star anise
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tub regular tofu (about 1 pound), drained and cut into small cubes
Salt and pepper
Chopped cilantro for garnish
Chopped scallions for garnish
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place onions, shiitake stems, and oxtails in a roasting pan. Coat them lightly with oil; generously salt and pepper oxtails. Roast until oxtails are nice and browned about 40 minutes. Place oxtails, onions, and shiitake in a pressure cooker with garlic, star anise, and ginger. Add seven cups cold water. Cook at high pressure for 20 minutes, then use natural release method to release pressure. Remove oxtails, set aside to cool. Strain broth. Bring broth to simmer, season with soy sauce, salt to taste, and plenty of black pepper. Add mushrooms, cook until tender, about fifteen minutes. Meanwhile, remove meat from bones. When mushrooms are done, add tofu and meat, simmer another couple minutes to heat through. Garnish each serving with cilantro and scallions.