Thursday, August 7, 2008

Rabo Encendido Estilo Chino Cubano (Braised Oxtail Cuban-Chinese Style)

My grandma makes the dish called "Rabo Encendido" two different ways. The traditional Cuban way and the other way. The Cuban Chinese way. Today I will show you the Cuban Chinese way.

I know some of you are thinking "What the hell Chinese in Cuban cooking?" well let me give you a little history lesson here check this article on wikipedia that is about Chinese Cubans:

Here's my brief little version that is kinda frank, Cuba recieved lots of Chinese immigration at some point in time, even today in Cuba there is a "Barrio Chino" Chinatown. So this recipe is a reflection on chinese influence on Cuban cooking because it has influenced my grandmothers because she braises the oxtail in soy sauce. Other aparrent influences sometimes in Cuban cooking is the "sweet and sour" flavors achieved by some by mixing a combination of raisin, capers, and olives in certain stewed meat dishes like "Fricasee" and some Cubans use it in "Picadillo". Also my grandmother and some Cubans I know will use "Wonton Wrappers" to stuff them with Guava paste and cheese then deep-fry YUM!

Now days thanks to the rotten good for nothing Communist dicatorship on Cuba much of Cuba's Chinese population is gone because they where smart enough to flee from tyranny there are still some Cuban Chinese restaurants in NY area. They don't fuse the cuisine but pair Chinese dishes with Cuban dishes or use Chinese cooking techniques on Cuban food. So without further explanation here is the recipe.

Serves 5 people
-3 pounds oxtail (it sounds like alot but it is mostly bone also wash it well before using)
-1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
-1 small or 1/2 a large green bell pepper minced
-1 whole medium onion chopped minced
-6 cloves of garlic crushed and finely minced (mortar or pestle or garlic press)
-1/2 cup red wine or dry white wine or cooking sherry
-1 cup water
-1 teaspoon ground cumin
-1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
-2 bay leaf (optional grandma doesn't add it to this one)
-1/4 cup regular soy sauce (or more to taste)

(1) Cut some lines to make gap between the firm outer skin because it shrinls and you don't want it to constrict the meat in a wierd way. Without any oil in a large stainless steel pot or dutch oven, heat on really high heat and sear/ brown oxtail (don't season it the soy sauce is very salty later you will use) and set aside
(2)Lower heat to medium and add extra-virgin olive oil, sautee bell pepper and onions until translucent and fragrant about 4 minutes then add garlic until garlic is golden and fragrant about 3 minutes.
(3)Now pour in 1/2 cup red wine and bring to high heat and stir and wait until it boils, now add 1 cup water and stir and wait for it to start boiling. Add cumin, oregano, and bay leaf.
(4)Now carefully arrange oxtail back into a pot. Drizzle carefully (the soy sauce) splashing little by little on each oxtail over the top. DO NOT STIR IT!. Now cover and lower heat to low and let it simmer for about 2 1/2 hours.

(6)Serve with some white rice, pour some of the cooking liquids over rice it's tasty, then serve. You can also have as side dishes some Cuban Black Bean soup on the side and a raw salad dressed in lime, olive oil and salt or instead of a raw salad some fireroasted skinned bell peppers tossed in "Mojo de Ajo"

Please Note: In my house we don't call this dish "Rabo Encendido Estilo Chino Cubano" we just call it "Cola en Salsa Soya" which translated to "Tail in Soy Sauce" even when we make the traditional cuban one we just call it "Cola de Res" which translated to "Beef tail" because everyone in the house knows when my grandmother, me or mother say's "Cola" (tail) we mean we are having either of these dishes.