Oxtail and Kabocha soup is a traditional Vietnamese soup that I grew up with. It was one of my favorite dishes as a child and it still is today. My mom has been a vegan for many years so I’ve had to learn to create this dish as an adult. If you haven’t had it before you would be amazed how delicious it is. It’s incredibly tender and flavorful. The combination of oxtail and kabocha is very balanced. The beef is rich and savory while the Japanese pumpkin is sweet and tender. I wanted to take this traditional comfort meal and make it accessible and modern. Here in Southern California – fusion cuisine is very popular. I’ve seen kim chee quesadillas and carnitas French fries so why not oxtail and kabocha tacos? I tested the recipe and combination with my family and co-workers. I’m happy to report back that it’s a winner!
The best part is this dish comes together really easy with the help of an electric pressure cooker. If you don’t have a pressure cooker you can cook it on the stove top until tender or in a slow cooker. The tacos are topped with crunchy and refreshing red cabbage, tangy pickled carrots and daikon and a generous helping of sriracha infused Mexican crema. I serve the tacos with a side of cilantro lime jasmine rice and a couple wedges of lime. It’s an Asian inspired taco that is so satisfying. The flavors and texture just go incredibly well together.
Braised Oxtail and Kabocha Tacos
2 ½ lbs of oxtails
2 tbs fish sauce
½ tsp salt
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 in knob of ginger, sliced at a diagonal into 3 to 4 pieces
3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 2 inch pieces
3 celery stalks, cut into 2 inch pieces
2 small onions, quartered
1 tsp sugar
2 14.5 oz cans of chicken broth
1 small Kabocha
1 C all purpose flour, seasoned with salt and black pepper
1 large egg, beaten
1½ C panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
½ small red cabbage, finely shredded
pickled carrots and daikon (store bought from an Asian supermarket or homemade)
½ C Mexican Crema
limes, cut into wedges
white corn tortillas
- Combine the oxtail, fish sauce, salt, garlic, ginger and a large pinch of black pepper. Let marinade for at least 30 minutes or up to 8 hours.
- In an electric pressure cooker, on the browning setting, coat bottom of the pan with oil and brown the oxtail on all sides. Remove oxtail and set aside. Change the setting to saute and add carrots, celery, onions and the ginger that was marinading with the oxtail. Saute for about 10 to 15 minutes or until the onions start to turn translucent.
- Add oxtail to the pressure cooker, add the 2 cans of chicken broth and sugar. Turn pressure cooker to high and cook for 70 minutes.
- Peel kabocha and cut the squash in half. Remove the seeds with a spoon and slice the squash about ¼ inch thick.
- Place seasoned flour in a shallow dish, put beaten egg in a separate shallow dish add a splash of water and mix, put panko into a separate shallow dish. Fill pot with about 3 to 4 inches of oil and heat over medium heat. While the oil is heating, dredge kabocha in flour, shake off excess flour then dip into egg mixture and then panko. Gently place kabocha into the hot oil (do not over crowd) and cook until golden brown and tender in the inside. Let drain on a wire rack.
- When the pressure cooker is done, scoop out the oxtails and place on a plate, use a fork to shred the beef.
- Add desired amount of sriracha to crema and mix. Taste and add more sriracha if you like it spicier.
- Heat tortillas on a pan on the stove top, fill with oxtail, one piece of fried kabocha, top with shredded red cabbage, pickled carrots and daikon (about 1 tbs). Top taco with sriracha crema and a squeeze of lime.
ps – This is the dish that I served at the MasterChef season 3 casting call, which did get me past the taste and personality round. Sad (or maybe happy) to say that I didn’t pass the “you’re crazy and dramatic enough for reality T.V.” round. At the end of the day, I’m happy that they enjoyed my food and that I can share my love for cooking on Kitchen Runway.
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