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Members of every beef-eating culture have eaten oxtail in some way or another throughout the history of civilization, not content to let valuable sustenance go to waste. Though widely considered part of the animal's "offal" waste parts, one of the most enduring and internationally acclaimed oxtail recipes in 2011 is Korean oxtail soup. Rich in beef flavor from the marrow, a distinctive stock is dotted with hyper-fatty meat and just a few other simple ingredients like onion, radish, garlic and ginger.
Known in Korea as gori gomtang or just gom gook, Korean oxtail soup takes just a few typically cost-effective ingredients to concoct. It also requires a mindful demeanor and up to five hours of preparation time. Until then, the oxtails — typically cow's tails in 2011 — will not be tender enough to fall off the bones. Some chefs will remove the meat from the bones before service, while others just leave the meat still clinging to the bones and let diners decide how best to deal with it.
Before Korean oxtail soup starts coming together, the oxtail should be trimmed of excessive fat, then submerged in water and soaked for about an hour, according to the Chowhound Web site. Then, according to the site's recipe, the rinsed tails are put into a fresh pot of water, and simmered with salt, onion, ginger and garlic for as long as four hours. Several online recipes advise cooks to regularly skim the top of the stock to remove bubbling fat.
Korean oxtail soup often includes not just chopped radish, but also a seasoned radish side dish known as ggak ddoogi. This seasons the radish with ingredients like red pepper powder, minced garlic, rice wine, ginger powder and salt before it is added to the soup. A typical garnish for Korean oxtail soup is chopped green onion, which perhaps adds the dish's only color. Some also add noodles to make the soup a hearty meal.
On the other side of the globe, another oxtail soup has evolved into quite a different affair. Popular in Jamaica is an oxtail stew that blanches and then fries the oxtail pieces in a skillet with bacon before a covered braising period in a bath of tomatoes, white and green onions, garlic and carrots. To make the meat especially seared, a coating of flour or corn meal can be dusted on before they hit the pan. Near the end of a four- or five-hour simmering, some cooks will add beans and herbs to turn a soup into a stew.