Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Hong Kong Oxtail Borscht

There's Russian borscht with beets and Hong Kong borscht with beef/tomato/cabbage. I abhor the first and love the second. My old co-worker used to try to get me to eat the Russian borscht whenever she brought some in for lunch and I always refused.

However, I find HKB very comforting. Sometimes they give out little cups of it at Hong Kong cafes, though those are mainly broth and a few wisps of cabbage. If you were truly lucky, you'd get a random tiiiiiinnnyyyyyy slice of beef.

No matter how much I've scaled this recipe down, it is a COMMITMENT. Like, soup for 8-12 people, depeding on if it's eaten as a meal or as a side. Considering how much time is spent preparing it though ... makes sense to make a lot.

Hong Kong Oxtail Borscht
Adapted from Christine's Recipes
Serves 8-12

Large pot boiling water for blanching
Approx 5 lbs oxtail (can use strips beef brisket or beef bones for soup)
1 can beef broth (approx 2 cups or 500ml)
10 cups water

2 Tbsp olive oil
3 stalks celery, 1/4 sliced
3 medium red potatoes, 1/2" cubed
1 onion, 1/2" diced
3 tomatoes, 1/4" diced
1 carrot, sliced into coins
1/2 head small cabbage, 1/2" cubed
2 cloves garlic, chopped
10 to 15 white peppercorns
3 bay leaves
3 Tbsp tomato paste
Zest from 1 lemon
Lemon juice/zest, sugar, kosher salt, white pepper to taste

Heat a large pot of water over high heat. Once boiling, blanch oxtails (or whatever beef you're using) in boiling water for approximately 3 minutes to remove blood and impurities. Let cool slightly and trim any fat away from the meat.

In the largest pot you have (and I mean largest), combine oxtails, beef broth and 10 cups water. Bring to a boil and then lower heat and simmer for 90 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Sauté garlic until aromatic. Add onion and cook until translucent, approx 5 minutes. Add celery and cook for another 3 minutes. Add the rest of the vegetables and sauté until softened, approx 15-20 minutes.

After the 90 minutes, combine all the vegetables into the stock. Add tomato paste, whole white peppercorns and bay leaves. You can tie the peppercorns into a cheesecloth for easy removal, if desired. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for another 60 minutes.

Grate lemon zest into the soup. Season well with kosher salt, sugar, white pepper and lemon juice to taste.

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