As ABC (American Born Chinese) kids living in a predominantly Caucasian town, Sarah and I have always had clashes of East meets West. There was always the cliched “ching chong” ridiculousness from classmates and the questions of “do you eat lo mein every night?” Then there was the downright offensive: being asked if we can “see” with eyes like ours; annoying references to the color yellow; and being racially profiled and mistaken for the ONE other Chinese girl who had been crazily speeding into the high school parking lot (let’s just say that the policeman backtracked reeeeal fast when I pointed out his mistake). There are some perks of course–the smart Asian kid stereotype has proved to be both a blessing and a curse for me–but, most of the time, living in a small rural town in Jersey is kind of annoying. (Sarah reflects on her experience here.)
For example, we’ve always had to have to drive at least 40 minutes to find a decent Chinese grocery store. But during a recent trip to our local supermarket, Sarah and I had an interesting observation. Alongside the typical boneless skinless chicken breasts, t-bone steaks, and turkeys were oxtails, pork bones, tripe, ,and liver. And the “ethnic aisle” no longer just had Goya products and a few dusty bottles of soy sauce–there were Indian curries, Japanese ingredients, as well as Chinese ingredients–they had rooster sauce (the ever popular Sriracha AND their chunkier chili garlic sauce)! Color me impressed.
This may not sound like a huge improvement, but, to illustrate what it’s normally like–a previous trip to the supermarket and a request for pork neck bones (to make stock) earned me this response: “I’ll check to see if we’ve got any, but they make ya pay, even for dog bones.” Uhhhh…not what I had in mind, but thanks for the info?
But possibly the only upside of all this racial awkwardness? Oxtails, pork bones, tripe, and liver were not only there, they were cheap. This kind of stuff sells for a premium at Asian groceries, but we snapped up a couple packs of oxtails for cheap to braise in soy sauce and the handy dandy bottle of mirin from the ethnic aisle! (*update: we also added bone-in beef shanks, which is why you see a couple pieces in the photos. Why? …Why not?)
Mom/Judy posted a recipe for her traditional Braised Oxtails when we first started the blog, but this one is slightly different and requires fewer ingredients (we leave out the more pungent flavors of cloves and star anise). We also found that it was much saucier, so what do we self-proclaimed non-cliched ABC kids do? ADD NOODLES!
But in all seriousness, these Braised Oxtail Noodles are so good–the oxtails (and beef shanks!) are super tender and have that wonderfully chewy collagen texture that comes from bone, not fat; and the sauce coats the noodles amazingly well. Add a little bit of zing with the scallions, and you have a seriously tasty lunch or dinner. You’ll need:
- 3 pounds oxtails and/or bone-in beef shank
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 5 cloves garlic
- 1/4 cup mirin, shaoxing wine, or dry sherry
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 3 cups water
- 1 pound fresh ramen noodles
- 1 scallion, sliced
Rinse the oxtails and beef shank (if using) and pat them dry. Heat oil in a thick bottomed pot over medium heat and brown them on all sides. Then add the garlic, mirin, soy sauce, dark soy sauce, bay leaves, sugar, and water.
Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 3 hours, until the meat is falling off the bone and the sauce has thickened. As it’s simmering, stir occasionally and add additional water if necessary to avoid sticking.
Cook the noodles according to package directions. We used a fresh ramen noodle, but any asian-style noodle would work, really.
Toss in the sauce along with the oxtails. Garnish with scallions and serve!
Braised Oxtail Noodles
- Rinse the oxtails or beef shank and pat dry. Heat oil in a pot over medium heat and brown them on all sides. Then add the garlic, mirin, soy sauce, dark soy sauce, bay leaves, sugar, and water.
- Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 3 hours, until the meat is falling off the bone and the sauce has thickened. As it's simmering, stir occasionally and add additional water if necessary to avoid sticking.
- Cook the noodles according to package directions and toss in the sauce along with the oxtails. Garnish with scallions.