A Fusion of Cultural Encounters
In our childhood as American Born Chinese kids in a predominantly Caucasian setting, we faced an array of moments. Some thought we relished oxtail noodle daily, while others held amusing stereotypes about lo mein. Our journey in a small New Jersey town was a tapestry of humorous, unsettling, and sheer exasperating experiences.
There were times when our identities felt like puzzles, fitting neither wholly here nor there. The routine hunt for an authentic Chinese grocery store always required a 40-minute drive. Yet, a recent supermarket visit threw us a pleasant curveball. Awaiting us were not just the usual meats but also delights like oxtails, pork bones, and tripe. Moreover, the ethnic aisle was now adorned with a variety of Asian ingredients, including the fiery Sriracha and its rich chili garlic variant. This cultural embrace, albeit a tad late, felt like a nod to our heritage.
Ironically, while these treasures are a luxury in Asian markets, here they were priced generously low. Seizing this opportunity, we decided to whip up a dish that resonates with our identity – Braised Oxtail Noodles, with a touch of our own uniqueness added in. These noodles tell a tale of our journey – tender oxtail, rich sauce, and the vibrant zing of scallions. A dish that’s more than just a meal; it’s an experience.
- 3 pounds oxtails and/or bone-in beef shank
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 5 cloves garlic
- 1/4 cup mirin (or use 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)
- Clean the oxtails or beef shank and pat them dry. In a pot, heat the oil over medium flame and sear the meat until golden brown. Introduce the garlic, mirin, both soy sauces, bay leaves, sugar, and water to the pot.
- Allow the mixture to reach a boil, then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Let it cook unhurriedly for about 3 hours. The meat should be so tender that it easily separates from the bone and the sauce rich and concentrated. Remember to stir occasionally and add water as needed to prevent drying.
- Prepare the ramen noodles as instructed on their packaging, ensuring they are al dente. Combine them with the flavorful oxtail sauce, ensuring every strand is beautifully coated. Serve hot, garnished with freshly sliced scallions.