There is a world of difference though in the texture of the cooked dish. Oxtail sinigang is richer; the broth is thicker and sticky because tendons liquefy during slow cooking and get mixed into the water. But oxtail takes much longer to tenderize.
There are several ways to tenderize the oxtail. You can do it the traditional way by simmering it on the stovetop (or in a claypot over charcoal if you’re feeling rustic). It will take several hours but slow cooking really is best. The modern equivalent is the slow cooker.
But if you don’t have much time to spare, there’s always the pressure cooker. In my case, oxtail always went into the pressure cooker until a couple of years ago when I finally got the hand of using a slow cooker. Apparently, it’s not as idiot-proof as many like to think.
If you pressure cook your oxtail but want to achieve the texture of slow cooked meat, cool the cooked oxtail then let it sit in the fridge, in its broth, overnight. There’s something about allowing the broth to congeal that makes it richer the next day. Once your oxtail is tender, just proceed cooking your sinigang the usual way.
But, if you have a slow cooker, then, this recipe is perfect for you. But, first, just a few tips for the best oxtail sinigang experience.
For four people, you will need six to eight cups for broth for generous servings. This is a soup dish after all and you want everyone to get a generous share of the flavorful broth. Depending on the amount of vegetables you’re adding to the oxtail, the cooking liquid may or may not be enough. Have two to four cups of bone broth (homemade or store bought) ready in case you don’t have enough cooking liquid to complete the dish.
Drop the vegetables into the pot beginning with what takes longest to cook. I drop in the okra and taro first. The sitaw follows after five minutes. Then, after another five minutes, the kangkong stalks and eggplants. After another five minutes, the kangkong leaves and radish go in.
Slow cooker oxtail sinigang
For slow cooking the oxtail
To complete the dish
- 2 tablespoons cooking oil
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 2 shallots peeled and thinly sliced
- 2 to 3 tomatoes diced
- 1 finger chili slit vertically
- 2 to 4 cups bone broth or as needed
- fish sauce to taste
- 12 pieces okra (tips cut off) diced
- 1 to 2 medium taro peeled and cut into 2-inch cubes
- 1 bunch yard-long beans (tips cut off), cut into 2-inch lengths
- 1 bunch water spinach cut into 2-inch lengths, stalks and leafy portion separated
- 2 eggplants cut into 2-inch cubes
- 1 radish peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 to 2 cups tamarind juice
Slow cook the oxtail
- Place the oxtail in a pot. Cover with water. Boil for 10 minutes. Drain and rinse well.
- Place the rinsed oxtail in the slow cooker. Pour in enough water to cover. Add the garlic, shallots, peppercorns and salt.
- Slow cook the oxtail for eight hours on high or up to 12 hours on low.
Cook the sinigang
- Strain the cooked oxtail. Reserve the broth.
- Heat the cooking oil in a pot. Saute the garlic, shallots, tomatoes and finger chili.
- Pour in the oxtail broth. If there isn't enough, pour in some or all of the bone broth as well. Season with fish sauce. Bring to the boil.
- Add the vegetables starting with what needs to cook longest, and adding the rest in five to ten-minute increments.
- Add the strained oxtail to the vegetables in the pot.
- Stir in the tamarind juice. Taste and add more fish sauce, if needed.
- Bring to a simmer and cook, covered, for another five minutes.
- Taste the sinigang broth one last time and add more fish sauce, if needed, before serving.