There have always been cultural tensions to me as ABC (American-Born Chinese) children living in a mostly Caucasian town. The “ching chong” jokes and the “do you eat lo mein every night?” questions from classmates were constantly there.
We were also subjected to the racially insensitive: being asked if we could “see” with eyes like ours; annoying references to yellow; and being racially profiled and mistaken for the one other Chinese girl who had been crazily driving recklessly into the high school parking lot (let’s just say that the policeman backtracked quickly when I pointed out his mistake).
Living in a tiny rural community in New Jersey has its advantages — the stereotype of the brilliant Asian kid has proven to be a boon and a disadvantage for me.
For example, to find a nice Chinese grocery store, we’ve always had to drive for at least 40 minutes. A strange thing, though, Sarah and I noticed on our most recent trip to the grocery store.
On the menu were oxtails and hog bones and tripe and liver in addition to the more standard boneless skinless chicken breast and turkey cuts. And the “ethnic aisle” was no longer just Goya items and a few dusty bottles of soy sauce—there were Indian curries, Japanese components, and Chinese ingredients—they had rooster sauce! You have my admiration.
However, if you’re going to the store and asking for pig neck bones (to make stock), you’ll get this response: “I’ll check to see if we’ve got any, but they make you pay, even for dog bones.” The information you provided was helpful, even though it wasn’t exactly what I was expecting.
What might be the one silver lining in this whole racial discomfort thing? Cheap oxtails and pork bones were among the items available at the market. We snagged a few packs of oxtails from the ethnic department of the supermarket for a fraction of the price of Asian grocers, where this kind of food is sold at a premium. You can see some bone-in beef shanks in the images since we added them. Why is this happening? (What’s the point?)
This version of Braised Oxtails is slightly different from the one I originally shared on the blog, but it’s just as delicious and takes fewer ingredients (we leave out the more intense flavors of cloves and star anise). What do we, the self-declared non-cliched ABC kids, do when we discover that it is significantly saucier?
That being said, these Braised Oxtail Noodles are a must-try. The meat is delicate and has that beautiful chewy collagen texture that comes from bone, not fat, and the sauce coats the noodles perfectly. Scallions give this dish an extra kick of flavor, making it a great lunch or dinner option.
- 3 pounds of oxtails and/or bone-in beef shank
- 1 tbsp. of oil
- 5 cloves of garlic
- 1/4 cup of mirin (shaoxing wine, or dry sherry)
- 3 tbsp. of soy sauce
- 2 tbsrp of dark soy sauce
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 tsp. of sugar
- 3 cups of water
- 1 pound of fresh ramen noodles
- 1 scallion (sliced)
- Drain and pat dry the oxtails or beef shanks. Using a medium-high heat, brown the meat on all sides in a pot of oil. Soy sauces come in various flavors, including light and dark, each with its own unique set of seasonings.
- Simmer for a few minutes after it has been brought to a boil on high heat. Take out the pot from the heat when the meat is falling from the bone, and the sauce has thickened. Observe it as it simmers and, if necessary, add additional water to keep it from sticking.
- Serve with oxtails and noodles cooked according to package directions. Add scallions to the top.