Sunday, November 27, 2011

Slow Cooker Chinese Oxtail Stew (Man1 Ngau4 Mei5, 燜牛尾)

I updated this recipe on 24 May 2013 and also added metric measurements.
This is a great dish for a Fall or Winter meal. Another of my favorite ingredients, oxtails (ngau4 mei5, 牛尾), were on sale and it’s hard to resist buying a favorite ingredient on sale. Oxtails are mainly bone, but are full of gelatin and together with tapioca starch (muk6 syu4 din6 fan2, 木薯澱粉), serves to thicken the sauce. Star anise (baat3 gok3, 八角) and cassia bark (gwai3 pei4, 桂皮) are the spices used in this dish. Cassia bark has a cinnamon-like flavor, but does taste slightly different than “normal” cinnamon, and is sold as dried cinnamon sticks at Asian markets. You can substitute cinnamon for cassia bark if you cannot find it.
The oxtails can either be browned in a wok or Dutch oven before adding them to the slow cooker. The oxtails can be browned the night before.

Soak Out Cooker Ingredients
2 cloves
2 cloves
Garlic cloves (syun3, )
Whole star anise (baat3 gok3, 八角)
1 stick
1 stick
Cassia bark (sold as dried cinnamon sticks) (gwai3 pei4, 桂皮) or cinnamon stick
Dried tangerine peel (can4 pei4, 陳皮)
Whole white peppercorns (baak6 wu4 ziu1, 白胡椒)
15 mm.
Cube rock sugar (bing1 tong4, 冰糖)
Other Ingredients
4 lb.
2 kg.
Beef Oxtails (ngau4 mei5, 牛尾)
Salt and Pepper (to taste)
¼ cup
60 ml.
Soy sauce (si6 jau4, 豉油)
1 cup
250 ml.
Shaoxing rice wine (siu6 hing1 zau2, 紹興酒) or dry sherry
Water or chicken stock to cover the oxtails in the slow cooker
3 Tbs.
45 ml.
Tapioca Starch (muk6 syu4 din6 fan2, 木薯澱粉) (see notes)
1 lb.
500 g.
Carrots (hung4 lo4 baak6, 紅蘿蔔), cut on the diagonal to ¾-inch (2 cm.) pieces
1 lb.
500 g.
Whole button mushrooms
Preparation Instructions
  1. Put the garlic cloves, star anise, cassia bark or cinnamon sticks, dried tangerine peel, white peppercorns, and rock sugar into the soak out cooker. Close and lock the soak out cooker, and place it into the slow cooker. If there isn’t sufficient space in the soak out cooker for all the ingredients, the rock sugar may be put directly into the slow cooker.
  2. Add salt and pepper to the beef oxtails and then set aside.
  3. Wash and cut the carrots on the diagonal to ¾-inch (2 cm.) pieces, and clean the mushrooms. Set the vegetables aside.
Cooking Instructions
  1. Brown the oxtails in a wok or Dutch oven. Deglaze the pan with Shaoxing rice wine and add the liquid together with the oxtails into the slow cooker. Try to arrange the oxtails in one layer on the bottom of the slow cooker. Browning the oxtails can be done the night before.
  2. Add the soy sauce and enough Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry, and water or chicken stock to just cover the oxtails in the slow cooker. Add the tapioca starch to the slow cooker and mix into the liquid.
  3. Brown the carrots and mushrooms individually before adding each ingredient to the slow cooker (in that order). Deglaze the pan with Shaoxing rice wine after browning the last vegetable (mushrooms), adding the liquid to the slow cooker. Cover the slow cooker and cook on low for up to 8 hours.
  4. After cooking is complete, the contents of the slow cooker should be transferred to the serving plate. The bones can be removed from the oxtails before serving. Remove the soak out cooker and discard the contents. Defat and pour the remaining liquid in the slow cooker over the oxtails in the serving plate. Serve with steamed rice.
  1. Tapioca starch is used to thicken the liquid and holds up well in a slow cooker. I originally got this information from America’s Test Kitchen and they use Minute Tapioca made by Kraft. I’ve used both the Minute Tapioca and plain tapioca starch to thicken liquids in a slow cooker, and both work equally as well. You can find Minute Tapioca in any grocery store and tapioca starch at your local Asian supermarket. The tapioca starch is much more inexpensive than the Minute Tapioca. Corn starch and other thickeners will break down and not thicken during the long cooking times in a slow cooker.

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