This is a great soup for a cold winter’s day, which makes it even weirder that it’s from Indonesia. Nevertheless, it’s an Indonesian classic, and we’ve had it in several restaurants and seen it for sale on the street. Note that the features vegetables that are all winter root vegetables, except for the tomatoes and scallions, and that we would think of the spices as Christmas cookie spices. Oh well. It’s good though. You might translate it as "Spice Islands Oxtail Soup," as it is sort of like oxtail soup, but it includes the three greatest money-earners for the Dutch in Indonesia: nutmeg, cloves, and pepper.
2 lbs. oxtail
3 inches of ginger, unpeeled but smashed
3 nutmeg seeds, roughly broken
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
salt to taste
3 carrots, halved and chopped into 1 inch chunks
2 leeks, chopped into 1 inch chunks
1 scallion, chopped into 1 inch chunks
2 medium all-purpose potatoes, chopped into 8 chunks each
2 tomatoes, cut into wedges
1 cup chopped celery, with leaves.
1 Tbsp butter or vegetable oil
Fill a large pot with enough water to cover the oxtail generously and add the ginger. Bring the water to a boil, add the oxtail, and boil for three minutes. Pour out the water and discard the ginger. Refill the pot (still with the oxtail) with cold water and bring to a boil. Add the cloves and nutmeg, and simmer, covered, for 1 1/2 hours until the meat is tender. Remove from heat, cool completely, and refridgerate overnight. Skim the congealed fat from the surface.
Bring the soup back to a simmer. Heat butter/oil in a pan over medium heat, add carrot, leek, and scallion and saute for 3 minutes, then add to the soup along with the potatoes, pepper, and salt to taste. Cover and simmer for twenty minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. Ladle into bowls and garnish with celery, tomato slices, and fried shallots.
The recipe would probably be even tastier if, before you started, you rubbed the meat lightly with vegetable oil and roasted it for an hour or so at 425 degrees, then deglazed the pan with water, used that for the soup base, and skipped the initial boil-and-dump phase. We can’t do that though because we don’t have an oven. If you do this, it’s important to use water–wine would ruin the taste.