[Sca-cooks] Winter comfort food...

Johnna Holloway johnna at sitka.engin.umich.edu
Wed Jan 10 03:38:07 PST 2007

Here's a recipe that was posted on
On Dec 4, 2005, by Phil

Yes, but was it organic ;-) ?

I'm intrigued by this because you seem to have combined two or more
recognizable but different soup traditions, most noticeably
stracciatella (which sometimes has spinach but always seems to have
eggs, presumably for their wedding/fertility symbolism), and
avgolemno. Not having tried it, I'm not sure how well it would work,
but we now have some evidence that it does ;-).

Some time before our first snowfall of the year last night, I made a
curry from odds and ends in the freezer, this time following the
southern Chinese model (in which the sauce is flavored with curry,
and tends to be thinner and lighter, almost a soup, instead of
cooking meat in curry paste until the juices thin it all to a saucy
masala consistency). This was the home-style model, as well, and not
the stir-fried restaurant travesty you sometimes encounter with
onions and peppers (and, God forbid, sometimes carrots) in a gluey,
curry-powder-flavored sauce.

It's actually deceptively simple: I browned several whole garlic
cloves and ginger slices in hot peanut oil in a Dutch oven until they
were _almost_ burned,  then added about 2 pounds each of oxtail and
cubed beef chuck (this is great with stewing lamb, too), browned
them, then reduced the heat, added about three cups of water and
about 1/2 cup of oyster sauce, and about three Tbs of rather generic
(presumably Madras) curry powder my lady wife had picked up in an
odd, unlabelled plastic tub (the curry was actually added before the
liquids and stirred into the meat and sizzled up a bit until
fragrant), and this was all covered and simmered for an hour or so.
During this time I soaked about a dozen black mushrooms (these
resemble shiitakes, but are darker in color and have a lot more
flavor) until reconstituted, and added them to the pot.

After some 1 1/2 to 2 hours further, I added for or five russet
potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks, stirred them in, and let it all
simmer on very low heat until the potatoes were done. My spouse has
this bread-and-potato fixation, possibly from growing up in a culture
for whom the staples are rice and noodles.

The oyster sauce is rarely used in that quantity (normally it's a Tbs
or two), but it provides a sweet-and-salty character that goes well
with the curry powder (Madras tends to be a little sweet anyway), as
well as providing a bit of thickening for the sauce. Between that and
the gelatin in the oxtails it needed nothing else.

Served with plainish bok toy quickly sauteed in ginger and (this
time) shallot-infused oil with salt and white pepper, and steamed
white rice, with clementines for dessert, plus a mango-and-trigo
shake for da kid. I stole some of the latter...


"S'ils n'ont pas de pain, vous fait-on dire, qu'ils  mangent de la
brioche!" / "If there's no bread to be had, one has to say, let them
eat cake!"
     -- attributed to an unnamed noblewoman by Jean-Jacques Rousseau,
"Confessions", 1782

"Why don't they get new jobs if they're unhappy -- or go on Prozac?"
     -- Susan Sheybani, assistant to Bush campaign spokesman Terry
Holt, 07/29/04

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