There is sometimes a fine line between a soup and a stew. In general, the Chinese use soups as a beverage to be consumed in the course of the meal. So, if it can be drunk, it is a soup; if you need chopsticks or a spoon, it is a stew. My friend
Blanch the oxtails in salted boiling water for 15 minutes. Remove them with a slotted spoon and drain them well in a colander.
In a large pot, bring the stock to a simmer. Toss in the salt, star anise, soy sauces and oxtails. Continue simmering gently for 20 minutes, uncovered, skimming several times. Cover tightly and continue to simmer for 3 hours, or until the oxtails are tender. Skim any excess fat from the surface.
Now add the vegetables, cover and continue to simmer for a further 25 minutes, or until all the vegetables are tender. Leave the vegetables whole. Ladle into a large soup tureen or individual soup bowls and serve at once.
© 1998 Ken Hom. All rights reserved.