mercredi, janvier 20, 2010

Sup Ekor (Malay-style Oxtail Soup)

Malay-style Oxtail Soup

Spent the very cold (sub-zero temperatures since yesterday) foggy morning with Elena. We have not seen each other for quite a while as I have been hibernating since the beginning of winter. We had lunch in Modena centro and had to walk through the old town to reach the restaurant. Along the way, we were nearly knocked down by an old Italian on his bicycle. The guy skimmed past us on purpose and called us "Ignoranti" to our faces. Had probably been looking for a few foreigners to insult, if that made his day, I'm happy for him. For wise men do not bother to reprove fools and I honestly would not know what to retort to such a weird remark. Read him my CV?

That morning, as it was, I had been disturbed while reading Gomorrah in the car, by an African man asking me for money. I was waiting for E as she had an appointment at the pharmacy. On another day, I would have locked the car and ignored him, for paying him heed would only encourage him to do the same to others. A girl can't even take refuge in her own car nowadays.

But I have lately resolved to be more understanding towards people who have not been allocated an easier time in this life. How often have I looked at the horrors happening elsewhere with sadness but detachment, taking comfort in the knowledge that I am lucky to be born in Singapore and to live in relative peace and prosperity in Western Europe?

How many times nearer home have I looked at these poorer migrants doing jobs that I wouldn't like to do and be glad that I didn't have to do them? But if they wouldn't do them, where would we be? Life unfortunately is unfair. The rich get more freebies than the poor, successful people are congratulated when they already know they have succeeded, the mediocre or the losers are ignored or stamped upon - some more. Still, I really hate being sollicited in this manner, so I gave him a euro to buy myself some peace and hope that at least he could be happy that there was one fewer person ignoring him today.

Trucks towing away the now-empty mobile market stalls

We passed by the covered market and they were removing the mobile market stalls in the piazza just outside it. We stopped to ask a passerby what it was about and he told us that they had decided to liberate the piazza (after all these years), move the stalls elsewhere and keep the square free. Good idea. In any case, going into Modena can be quite depressing nowadays, for everywhere you turn, you see shops closing down. The Italian Mafia is richer than Croesus himself, but the rest of the country is living through an economic crisis.

Then we noticed that the piazza just outside the Duomo was covered with police cars, vans and bikes. I stopped a policeman to ask him why that was the case and he whispered that today was la festa della polizia.

This evening, after the oily Japanese lunch, I was glad to be eating a simple but delicious Sup Ekor (Malay-style Oxtail Soup) that I had started preparing this morning. If you think Vietnamese Pho is lovely, you should try Sup Ekor. Then you would understand why the Malays hadn't found the need to eat Pho. If I have to put it simply, Sup Ekor is like Pho, but with lemongrass and tomato paste en plus. And I love eating it with fresh baguette. Somehow they go so well together.

Sup Ekor :

1 kg Oxtail (chopped into large pieces)
Half a head of Garlic
6 Cloves stuck in 1 Onion
2 Lemongrass stalks (bashed and sliced)
1 thick slice of Ginger (sliced)
4-5 green Cardamoms
2-3 Star anises
1 Cinnamon bark
1 Tbsp ground Coriander
2 Tsp ground Cumin
1 Tbsp white Peppercorns
3 Potatoes (cubed largely)
4 Carrots (sliced into large chunks)
2 Celery stalks (sliced into 3s)
Half a Fennel bulb
4-5 Plum Tomatoes (halved)
1.5 litres of hot Water
3 tbsp concentrated Tomato paste
Salt to taste
Fresh Chillis
Fresh Coriander leaves
Fried Shallots

In a heavy-bottomed soup pot, fry the ginger, lemongrass, garlic, oxtail, whole and ground spices in a little oil till fragrant. Another way could also be to grind the garlic, onion, lemongrass and ginger into a paste first before frying it.

Add the potatoes, carrots, fennel and celery into the pot.

Pour in the hot water. Cover.

When the water has come to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for an hour.

Add the fresh tomatoes followed by the tomato paste. Then salt to taste. Cover and simmer for another hour or till the meat is melt-in-the-mouth.

Garnish with fresh coriander leaves, chillis and fried shallots and serve hot with baguette. Sedap!

10 commentaires:

Pris a dit…

Hey Serene! May I ask you, for your caramel prawns, if I don´t have black sesame oil, what can I use? Would it be ok to use black soya sauce and normal sesame oil? I like the colour of your prawns!

Beau Lotus a dit…

Pris, black or white sesame oil wouldn't change the colour of the sauce.

I didn't use dark soy sauce. The caramel colour comes from the caramel. Sugar when cooked turns dark.

Pris a dit…

Hey thanks! :) Oh man, I sound so sua ku with my question! But its always gd to learn smth new! hahah.

Ok, taste-wise, is there a difference btw black or white sesame oil? So I know if I shd get a bottle when I go back sg.

Beau Lotus a dit…

There probably is but honestly I wouldn't know.

Anonyme a dit…

Hi there, I'm a malay S,porean stuck here in Piemonte, Asti. A S'porean friend in Torino today recomended yr blog. Been spending the whole afternoon drolling over yr recipes and pics. Wishing I could be like you ... Love to cook and eat, but my body having problem cooping.. you know what i mean. Will try the sup ekor tomorrow for dinner. Wish me luck.

Beau Lotus a dit…

Hi you are a friend of E's?

We passed by Asti on our way back from the French Alps recently.

Let me know how your Sup Ekor turns out. Help me improve it, make it more sedap etc.

Misa a dit…

HI, yes E recommended me yr blog. Like you we live in small paese, quite isolated. I live in a old renovated farmhouse. I'm half bored most of the time and to pass time i cook whatever fancy me. Last year i have to see a dietologo , to loose some wait..... my doc said i need it before it comes worst. Anyway, enjoyed very much reading your blog, it seems we have quite similar adventures living here in Italy. I miss Spore though but most of the time , it is the food that i craves so much.
I did try the sup, it is very nice eventhough i make do with dry lemon grass, to find fresh Asian ingredients i have to go to Torino, che barba....
Are you in the Singapore in italy facebook? A presto misa

Beau Lotus a dit…

Hi Misa, E was at your house and you made dumplings together, didn't you?

House looked really nice too, I remember. :-) Do you own or rent it? We are renting our farmhouse, pity as I would have renovated it differently if it were mine.

Alamak talk about weight and I'm frustrated. Have put on more than 10 Kgs since I arrived. Will need to find a dietologo soon too.

Yes, I'm on FB. Ask E and she'll give you my name.

Misa a dit…

Hi, Yes E was here, that was the first time we met. Went to Serravalle last Fri with E.
We bought the cascina in 2000 it looks like someone dropped a bomb on it.Thinking that one day when hubby retires we might live there... ( me thinking in his dreams) Anyway make story short. 2003, with the Asia crisis, hubby was asked to go back to HQ - Milan or find something else.. So here we are here and we decided to restore the farmhouse . There are a lot of work to be done outside , but we taking our sweet time... since we have spent 5 times more than the actual price of the house.

I truly love to eat , put 10 kgs myself,,,, Need to loose it cause I have back ache .. when i was young i can whacked anything my way , i miss those days....

Request to be added to FB, did u received it

Beau Lotus a dit…

Misa, you must tell me more about your farmhouse, I love old houses and learning about their renovations. That's our dream to buy and restore one ourselves.

Which company does your Hub work for?

I've got your FB request, but I rarely go there or rather I try to avoid going there. Once there usually stuck for a while. I'll confirm you the next time I connect.