Oxtail Steamed Buns… or Not

Gregorian New Year has passed and Lunar New Year is upon us, which means I needed to grind out some new recipes for Saturday’s Lunar New Year Dinner Party.

It’s the Year of the Ox, which is a little more enticing than year of the rat, so I went straight to the ox for inspiration.  This lead me to oxtail, which is actually part of a cow, but I’m not going to stress about it.  I was going to make BBQ pork buns (like Cantonese Cha siu bao), but I have been told that the OMG ribs needed to happen again (I bought over ten pounds of ribs) and that would mean a lot of pork among the starters, so I worked up a recipe for Oxtail Steamed Buns.

— Needle scratching across the record and the music stops —

The Beer Braised Oxtail (recipe far below) was great, but not suited to a steamed bun, so I went back to the more traditional pork.  The method works fantastically well, because I made the meat and sauce in a crockpot, but let it cook down until the liquid was sticky and didn’t cover the meat so the top got charred and developed a barbecue flavor.

BBQ Pork Buns (Cha siu bao)
3 pounds pork shoulder
1 teaspoon 5-spice
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup hoisin
1/4 cup mirin
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup oyster sauce

  1. Cut pork into 2-inch strips and sprinkle with 5-spice.
  2. Combine other ingredients in crock pot and add pork.
  3. Cook on low for 10 hours (and then it sat on “warm” another 8 hours, but I am not sure if that was essential).

6 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup white sugar
1 3/4 cup warm water
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 tablespoons shortening

  1. Dissolve sugar in water, and add yeast. Let stand for 10 minutes/until frothy.
  2. Sift flour and baking powder into a large bowl. Add shortening and yeast mixture and knead until smooth and elastic.
  3. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover with cling wrap and allow to rise in a warm place for 2 hours, or until tripled in volume.
  4. Flatten a golf ball size lump of dough into a 4-inch disc, place a 1-inch ball of meat in the middle and wrap dough to encapsulate the meat.
  5. Let completed buns sit in the steamer baskets another 30 minutes and then steam for fifteen minutes.  Serve hot.

Beer-Braised Oxtail

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons high quality oyster sauce
  • 1/4 cup mirin
  • 1/2 teaspoon 5-spice powder
  • 3-4 pounds oxtails
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 1 can beer
  1. In a bowl (or in your crockpot if inner bowl is removable!), combine soy, hoisin, oyster sauce, mirin and 5-spice powder.
  2. Add oxtail to bowl, submerging in sauce, cover and refrigerate overnight.
  3. Add beer and stock, stir, cover and cook on low heat for 8-10 hours.

2 thoughts on “Oxtail Steamed Buns… or Not

  1. Love that you got a photo. You didn’t mention that it helps to have a cute Chinese girl making the buns. . . or that she was winging it and they turned out like “real” ones!

  2. I have done oxtail before…delicious…but I have never worked up the gumption to do char shu bao or even ta siu bao (sweet bean paste). Someday! And someday I’ll show up for dinner. mmmmmmmmm

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