This is a perfect winter braise to serve with a bowl of steaming rice or noodles. I love the sour fruitiness the tamarind brings to the dish. You can substitute any braising cut of beef such as shin, brisket or chuck; lamb shoulder works well with these flavours, too. I also like to change the vegetables and have used pumpkin or yam, or chopped green beans, on occasion.
FOR THE SPICE PASTE
6 long red chillies, seeded
6 green bird's-eye chillies, chopped
5 red eschalots (french shallot), chopped
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tbsp fresh turmeric, chopped, or 1 tsp ground turmeric
5 kaffir lime leaves, sliced
2 hearts of lemongrass, crushed
4cm piece galangal, chopped
FOR THE BRAISE
1kg oxtail, trimmed of fat
2 cups tamarind purée
8 cups fresh chicken stock
6 tbsp palm sugar
5 tbsp fish sauce
100g potatoes, peeled and cut into 3cm cubes
10 cherry tomatoes, halved
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 red eschalots (french shallot), finely sliced and fried until golden
3 tbsp coriander leaves
1. Using a mortar and pestle, pound the chillies and salt to a rough paste. Add eschalots, garlic and turmeric and continue to pound, then add lime leaves, lemongrass and galangal and pound to a fine paste.
2. Put the oxtail into a large pot and add the spice paste, tamarind purée, chicken stock, palm sugar and fish sauce. Bring to the boil and then reduce heat to a gentle simmer. After 2 hours, add the potatoes and tomatoes and simmer for a further hour. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
3. To serve, transfer oxtail to a bowl, ladle the sauce over and sprinkle with fried eschalots and coriander leaves.