A couple of weeks ago I borrowed from the library A Year in My Kitchen by Skye Gyngell (head chef at Petersham Nurseries in Richmond) and just knew her recipe for Braised Oxtail with ginger, five spice and garlic was going to be the perfect mix of comforting English Stew mixed with the heat from South East Asia. Surprisingly the recipe only calls for 2 hours total cooking time (on the stove top)...I didn't really feel that it was going to be "stew-y" enough for me by the time 1 1/2 hours were up so I transferred the dish into the oven and cooked for a further 2 hours...the meat was falling off the bone and it was (in my opinion) perfect!
Because I cooked the stew for so long the flavours from the ginger, garlic, chillies and chinese five spice definetly were different from if I had followed Skye's recipe timings...I think her's is meant to taste more South East Asain inspired...but the heat from the chillies and ginger was lovely with the ox tail. I served the stew just over some mashed potatoes. I think if the Asian flavours had been stronger I would have served rice or sweet potato mash (as suggested in Skye's book). Regardless...so so so yummy...either way!
Most of Skye Gyngell's recipes include a combination of flavours to achieve Agra-dolce...a balance and harmony from contrasting tastes like salty (or savoury) with sweet...totally complimenting eachother. So into the oxtail stew I added (in the last 20 mins of cooking) fish sauce, soy sauce and maple syrup...salty, sticky and sweet all together! Seriously different, and seriously yummy!