(courtesy of Olla Swanson, chef, The Olla Factory. Serves 6)
Note: Swanson suggests serving this dish with a dab of shrimp paste on the side and recommends that those eating the dish add just a bit of it to each forkful. The saltiness of the paste cuts into the rich sauce, creating a unique umami flavor.
5 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon annatto powder*
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
1 medium Spanish onion, roughly chopped
4 ½-inch pieces ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
2 medium garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
2 fresh red Thai chiles,* halved lengthwise (including seeds)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 medium tomato, roughly chopped
4 cups coconut milk
¼ cup distilled white vinegar
5 pounds oxtail
5 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 Chinese eggplant,* halved lengthwise and sliced in 1½-inch pieces
8 – 10 yard-long beans,* cut in 2-inch pieces
5 baby bok choy,* leaves separated
¼ cup chopped peanuts for serving
Cooked white jasmine rice for serving
* Found at some Asian food stores
Combine 3 tablespoons oil, annatto powder, and turmeric in large pot. Set over medium-high heat, and cook, stirring occasionally, until oil is a reddish color, about 1 minute. Add onion, ginger, garlic, and chiles, and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are brown at edges, about 5 minutes. Stir in sugar and cook, stirring for about 3 minutes more. Squeeze tomato pieces over pot, then add to pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes begin to fall apart, 5 to 7 minutes.
Stir in coconut milk and vinegar, and bring to a boil. Add oxtail, cover pot tightly, set heat to very low, and cook until tender, about 4 hours.
Use slotted spoon to transfer oxtail to a plate and strain liquid into large bowl, discarding solids. Return liquid to pot, set over very low heat, whisk in peanut butter until fully combined, and return beef to liquid. Season with salt and pepper to taste, turn heat to medium until simmering, stir well, and then turn off heat.
Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté eggplant, beans, and bok choy until soft, about 7 minutes. Transfer vegetables to pan with oxtail. Mix gently to incorporate.
Serve hot over white jasmine rice. Top with chopped peanuts, and add a dab of shrimp paste on the side of the plate.