It’s Even Better Mixed


As with many Cambodian stews, Oxtail and Pineapple Soup is fairly simple, starting off with just beef, onions and pineapple.  Complexity and nuance come only toward the end, as diners choose from all manner of seasonings and vegetables to stir into their individual bowls, unleashing a symphony of flavors.

When it all comes together, the overall visual effect is quite pleasing, as pictured below:Pineapple and Oxtail MixedThe flavor is spectacular too, as chopped roasted garlic adds an almost nutty zip that enlivens the rich broth and wraps around the meat.  Fresh cilantro, basil and chopped scallions contribute a green freshness that also contrasts nicely with the other ingredients and keeps the soup light.

Though it’s a beef stew, the veggies ensure the soup is refreshing enough to enliven even a sweltering August day.  In fact, it’s sprightly enough even in its native Cambodia, a jungled, tropical land with conditions so far beyond the August “swelter” most of us bemoan.  That’s why the recipe made the list when My Linh Nakry featured it on her Cambodia Recipe website.

The other reason is the pineapple, a personal favorite.  Just look at that gorgeous color!  The visuals only are the beginning.  The burst of sweet and sour juiciness complements the greens perfectly, and makes the soup, if anything, even brighter.  There’s chemistry too, as pineapple harbors an enzyme that naturally tenderizes beef, which is then easier yet to eat.

Just one of the many ingredients elevating today’s soup to stardom, and making it worthy of replication halfway around the world.  By itself Oxtail and Pineapple Soup is delicious, yet when all the magic is mixed in…superb!

*****

Oxtail and Pineapple Soup

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil (*1)
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
  • 2 pounds oxtail (*2)
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced (*3)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 7 cups water
  • 1/2 pineapple, cut into chunks (*4)
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (*5)
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • a handful of rice paddy herb and fresh basil, chopped (*6)
  • 2 hot chili peppers, diced, optional

Place a stockpot over a medium-high flame.  When the pot is hot, add the oil.  When the oil shimmers, add the garlic.  Cook, stirring frequently, until the garlic is golden-brown, about three minutes.  Remove the garlic to a separate bowl.

Add the beef (*2), onion and salt to the stockpot and stir well.  Reduce flame to medium and add the water.  Simmer until the beef is tender, about 30 minutes, removing and discarding the bones about halfway through.

Add the pineapple and let the soup return to an active simmer.  Season soup with fish sauce and sugar.

Ladle soup into individual bowls and serve alongside roasted garlic, fresh herbs and chopped scallions, to be added appropriate to each diner’s taste.

NOTES:

1 – It pains me to contradict someone who’s…survived everything Cambodia endured, but I do think peanut oil is a better choice.

2 – Oxtail isn’t always present, even at larger butcher shops.  If it isn’t available, a couple beef shank cuts will do, or even beef spare ribs.  Be sure to cut the meat from the bones and to coarsely cube it.  Save the bones for the soup, as they add flavor and texture, but remove them from the simmer after ten or fifteen minutes.  Any longer than that, and they’ll make things too oily.

3 – I substituted one tiger for the onion, though things didn’t turn out so well.  Eventually, I tried two medium shallots, and they worked much better.

4 –  If you don’t dissect a fresh pineapple, a medium-sized can of pineapple cubes is about the right amount.

5 –  If you have it, use palm sugar.  It’s healthier and is closer to what is used in the original.

6 – Thai basil was easy enough to find, though rice paddy herbs weren’t.  In fact, the closest source was likely counties away, so I substituted for it fresh cilantro.  I did grow rice paddy herbs a couple summers back, but they went into dishes long ago, leaving only this photo:Rice Paddy Herb

52 thoughts on “It’s Even Better Mixed

    1. Thanks, Tamara! Chicken or turkey both are good ideas. Or…or…

      How about another cut of beef? Short ribs really would work well here too. No matter what protein you choose, the enzymes in the pineapple will help to tenderize it. So, in addition to being delicious, pineapple has a trick up its sleeve!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thanks, Tamara!

        In light of this information, I think you’d like Heinz 57 sauce. Have you ever tried it? Not in Cambodian soup, of course, but on a steak, or a burger, or drizzled on chicken…mmmm!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes it is, Kate, thanks!

      You know, from that angle, it’s easy enough to forget I’m amidst a metro area of 2.5 million. Of course, traffic noise from the freeway in the valley two hundred meters distant would be another clue.

      Not that I complain, as I find the hum to be contented and peaceful. A reassurance things are working as they should. What can I say? I’ve lived in metros my whole life, most far bigger than this one.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thanks so much, Kate! Compared to the local stunners you’ve shown us, though, just a shadow. A Northern Hemisphere Knockoff.

        Still, after a stressful day at the office, it is a wonderful antidote!

        Liked by 1 person

  1. What?! No tiger? Well, I guess trying to fit it into the pot might make for a bit of a quandary… So, I suppose I can forgive you. Especially if it was live. That would have been doubly… quandarious.

    Didn’t know that about pineapple. Of course, anything sweet automatically has me on board, but that’s a nice perk.

    Per our conversation on your previous post (ironically, I seem to be having issues commenting on that one right now): I shall try. To comment, that is.

    Speaking of your last post… I’m half surprised you didn’t grill the pineapple. And the beef. And the tiger! Maybe it would’ve fit better in the grill? But, I suppose then it would have been a very different dish. So there ARE limits to how far you’ll go in your grilling obsession!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ha, Rachel! By the way, before I continue, I did get your “I’ll try” response. Maybe it’s not showing up for you, but I’m having no problems viewing it.

      As far as pineapple goes, I do love the stuff, so, full disclosure right there. That said, it (and papaya too) contains enzymes that tenderize meat. It’s science. Who are we to argue with the people in the white coats?

      You like the tiger concept, huh? Thus, I imagine you’ll be happy to hear that one of the spreads I plan includes something called “Tiger Bite Sauce.”

      Intriguing, no? Let’s turn that “I’ll Try” into an “I’ll Do.”

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m seeing it now. Only one iteration of it, luckily… I’d made several attempts. Not that it’s a fifteen paragraph masterpiece or anything, but I’ve never had an issue like that before. Maybe that’s a sign I need to comment more. Which I’ll… do.

        “Tiger Bite Sauce,” huh? Sounds spicy. Add a tiger, cook it down… No? Well, I guess I’ll have to wait and see how it’s done. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Technical issues, Rachel? I’ve had little but. For someone to find troubles while I remain unscathed? That’s a once-in-a-lifetime event. Well, maybe it might happen again if I live to be 162, but by then robots will be writing our blogs from Mars colony.

        As for Tiger Bite Sauce, look to where the Mekong parts the mist among jungled mountains…

        No more clues – I don’t want to ruin the surprise!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Always happy to beat the odds! Though I have reservations about whether you’ll have less tech issues with robots about… Then again, maybe everyone else will have more.

        Fair enough, Keith. I shall have to be patient… Like a child before Christmas. 😄

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Oh, I have to be patient too, Rachel. Years sometimes, until we see how all of you will react! Darn it, there are things I’m really confident you’ll dig, too.

        By the time the last of them make appearances (late 2023), how will I know if I’m getting your reaction, or Rosy’s, or some robot’s? After all, 2023 is some crazy, way-out-there moon-man date!

        Liked by 1 person

      5. I’m curious: do you actually set posts to air years in advance, or is just a matter of working down a very long to-do list?

        Ah, I see your point! Three years is a long time… Why, three years ago, I didn’t even have a blog! Terrifying thought. Though hopefully, I will not, by that time, have morphed into a cross-dressing pirate; even a millionaire one.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Working down a long list, more like, Rachel. Still, not as much room to maneuver as you might think, as changing one entry often would require switching others too, thus creating a logistical nightmare.

        I hesitate, even, to tell you how long I’ve been at this, lest it tempt you to check out some of the earlier entries, which are cringe-worthy. You did happen upon the site at a fortunate time, though, as I believe I had found my footing by then. Better yet, ideas abound for additional enhancements, meaning cool things to come too.

        You’re right, in that three years does stretch beyond our foreseeable futures – and that includes mine. If I’m still at this then, many improvements will have unfolded. If not, it must mean I’m off chasing my lifelong dream of repossessing cars.

        Liked by 2 people

      7. Ah, but now you have me curious! And how can one understand the future if they can’t accept the past? Besides… A person is always their own worst critic. If I were (able) to locate my first poems and show them to you, I bet you’d still be able to find something good to say about them (maybe), while I would just be cringing my soul out.

        …Repossessing cars?

        Liked by 1 person

      8. Dammit! There’s no chance of you unreading that, is there Rachel? Didn’t think so.

        Very well, then, have at it… Some of those early entries are awfully weak, and thus, garnered no comments. Yours, if any, would be the first.

        Actually, I very much would like to see where you started. Though most poetry is beyond my comprehension, yours is expressed clearly. Artfully, too. Yet clarity is one of the elements that elevates yours beyond the confusing, as it evokes ongoing, relatable thoughts.

        Ah, repossessing cars. You’re going to be sorry you asked.

        Inside joke, to myself. One of my friends lent me a real dog of a movie, starring (so to speak) the late Dan Haggerty (“Grizzly Adams”), as a guy who went around repossessing cars. Titled, imaginatively, “Repo Jake,” it’s even more awful than you’d imagine. Lots of odd, misplaced, even bizarre, dialogue too.

        See, regretting your curiosity already, aren’t you, Rachel?

        Liked by 1 person

      9. I regret nothing. 😆

        So, I have your permission then? Hehehe… *rubs hands maniacally* Now I just have to find a time that’s not already what some would call early morning, to begin the delve.

        My initial, just-getting-into-poetry writings were on a tablet that I wound up having issues with and replacing. I possibly saved some things… But I can’t recall if I saved THOSE things. Hmm… I just might have to check that… Though I can’t say if “artfully” is a word that would apply to them.
        Though by the time you’re Repo Keith (or do you prefer Felix?) I may well blush at the thought of my now-modem poetry too. I suppose I did say a person is their own worst critic…

        Liked by 1 person

      10. Permission? Of course, comrade.

        It’s flattering you’d seek it, but who the h*** am I to grant it? Have at it!

        Your first yearnings were on a tablet? Nothing prior to that, no verse jotted down in a notebook or in a diary somewhere? Please tell me there’s something, so when the researchers are assembling the Rachel-in-Retrospect Library at Princeton, they’ll have something for “The Early Years” exhibit.

        Then again, why wouldn’t we be our own most unsparing detractors? It’s all part of the constant improvements I’m on and on about over on your site. How can we be better now, if we aren’t improving what once was?

        Liked by 1 person

      11. Ha! No, I’m afraid the earliest I can find on paper is in a journal, with the verses marked as being written in 2017… And I believe I started writing poetry in 2015.
        Though I confess, that suits me just fine. There are some things I’d rather not have analysed by strangers a hundred or so years down the line… I would be rolling over in my grave. 😅

        Liked by 1 person

      12. Honestly, Rachel, reading some of your first efforts were committed to paper balms the heart.

        First, because it’s inherently organic and, in fact, poetic, to continue a tradition stretching all the way back to when people started composing verse back in toga days. For that simple “low-tech” act, you’ve made common cause with Robert Frost, Emily Dickinson and all the others.

        Also, nothing makes me feel so ancient as to read of someone who never used a pen and paper. “What? We always used tablets or laptops.”

        Thanks for sparing me that indignity, as well as a story about what things were like “Back in my day.”

        Liked by 1 person

      13. “Back in your day,” huh? Why, Keith, I never knew you wore togas! 😝

        I jest, of course; I strongly doubt you’re that old. Unless you’re secretly an immortal, in which case, do tell!

        As for myself, I’m almost certainly a child of the century… Though if any experience with paper spells redemption, then I am saved! Largely, I suspect, thanks to my schoolwork and my sister’s influence. Now SHE can fill journals.

        Although, speaking of journals, I suppose I do occasionally swoon over them a bit… But as for filling them I just never was any good.

        You know what? I’ll earn my place with Frost and Dickinson. Next opportunity, I’ll buy myself a blank journal, and I’ll write my poetry nowhere but there (ideally) until it’s filled. How about that?

        Liked by 1 person

      14. The millennia have bestowed many names. The most recent, in the 1700s, was le Comte de Saint Germain. Time for a new handle, don’t you think? Have you any suggestions? If the alias befits immortality, the Philosopher’s Stone is yours.

        Filling a journal is an excellent idea, Rachel. Of course, there are ulterior motives. First and foremost, the more poetry you write, the better humanity is situated. A whole journal would be transformative!

        Plus, as mentioned, I’m angling to be named curator of the In-Retrospect Collection at Princeton. Wait until I uncover a whole journal of Rachel originals, all handwritten. In this day and age, no less! Why, the university would have no choice but to offer me lifetime tenure, six figures, and an awesome home right on campus.

        Either that, or I just enjoy trying to keep up with your talent!

        Liked by 1 person

      15. A name for an immortal? Uhh… Dracula? MacLeod? Too derivative? What about… John Smith? It’s timeless! Possibly.

        Curator, huh? Hah! Well in that case, I have no choice: Sometime in the next couple months, I will get a shiny new journal… And fill it to the brim.

        Oh? Who’s keeping up with who, I wonder?

        Liked by 1 person

      16. Are you saying Gavin MacLeod’s immortal? No wonder “The Love Boat” is active somewhere in the cable universe at any given time. So, Gopher gets elected to Congress, and Captain Stubing gets to live forever? Who knew?

        Oh, it is I, trying to keep up with you. If you spend enough time on that journal, I may have a chance to catch my breath.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Much appreciated, Eliza!

      Nope, the rice paddy herb is a past experience now. It thrives in the tropics, but come winter, bringing it indoors only delayed the inevitable. Too little moisture, not nearly enough sun or warmth come January/February/March. Still though, it did make for a fascinating April through October. Plenty of nice recipes too!,

      Like

  2. You are a true food poet! Oxtail is a personal favorite of mine but I’ve never had it with pineapple. I love the creativity at work here and am certain this was absolutely delicious.

    It is difficult to get oxtail at times. I feel like I have all the riches when I can get my hands on it! It’s nice that it tends to be very inexpensive as well. All the people who have not tried it don’t know what they are missing out on!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Merci, Summer. D’accord.

      Surprisingly enough, oxtail is one of the few meats that’s been available consistently around here. It seems the mob just isn’t interested, which makes me appreciate it even more.

      Especially with pineapple’s tenderizing properties, and all that collagen. Why, if it weren’t for the diminutive size, it’s getting close to an ideal cut. I don’t think we’ve seen the last of it, either.

      Great recipe, huh? A real tribute to the irrepressible worth of Khmer culture.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Truly excellent! Wow, they are missing out. Hopefully they aren’t clearing out things like hot dogs instead. Oxtail is so much more delicious.

        I don’t usually look for oxtail in the summer because I tend to associate it with winter dishes. This post makes me want to rethink that!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Much appreciated, Summer!

        It makes sense that you’d associate oxtail with wintertime, as its bony structure suits it more toward soups, stews and slow braises. All methods that specialize in extracting all that yummy collagen.

        For me, though, I always thought of it in a tropical context, as in this week’s Cambodian soup, and in a Jamaican Oxtail Soup I’m contemplating. I figure, if they’re making it, mid-jungle, we can manage in our wimpy temperate-zone summers. Plus, as you know, half of what I make goes into the freezer anyway, meaning at least a couple batches will simmer away amidst January’s snowstorms.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I can’t say I’ve tried oxtail, palm sugar, or Cambodian soups, but I can practically taste yours through other familiar ingredients, your evocative wordsmithing, and of course, your photography. I’m fulfilled. Thank you, dear!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. No, Crystal, thank you for your constantly insightful commentary!

      Sure, “authentic” ingredients mean the world to the pretentious (like me), but I also chafe at magazines, etc., that assume their readers all live on the Upper West Side, thus granting them instant access to the hopelessly obscure.

      That’s why, while I do go overboard on some of these ingredients, especially when attempting a recipe for the first time, I do try to give good equivalents for those living in the real world. Or for me, the next time I try my hand at this.

      Thus, no oxtail? Try short ribs, or even a small chuck roast. Can’t find palm sugar? Dark brown sugar’s nearly as good.

      As for the lack of Cambodian culinary experiences, I’m confident you’ll rectify that one of these days, Crystal. Imagine how surprised – and delighted – Kody will be!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. So you don’t live on the Upper West Side? You fooled me. I wouldn’t call any of your ingredients over the top or overboard. The way I see it, you bring the restaurant experience home and knock it out of the park every damn time by making these meals so accessible. *Insert ovation here.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Once again, Crystal your thoughtfulness sends gratitude cascading. Thanks so much!

        Actually, I live on the Upper East Side.

        Of my suburb, that is, not Manhattan.

        Still, I have the unfortunate habit of planning everything beyond reason. Thus, no exaggeration, Crystal, entries currently are slated through Autumn 2023. Therefore, if an obscure item is out-of-stock right now, I can wait six months for it to appear again.

        That’s the lemonade. The lemons? There’s so much I’m dying to show all of you, but its turn won’t come for three years. Patience, Grasshopper.

        Like

      3. The condensation, the quenching…what’s not to love, Crystal?

        Then, making a leap nearly to the other side of the room, I remember reading of people around the turn of the (last) century who enjoyed hot lemonade in the winter. Oh, they drank cocoa too back then, but it seems they had a more elaborate drink menu.

        Wait, why am I going off on tangents about cocoa and the like? It’s about 136 degrees. Let’s talk about a brisk, dew-jeweled lemonade again.

        Like

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