Once or twice each winter, when my hands start to crack, I make a special meal to give my skin a little help. This soup takes a couple days to make properly, but the result is a rich, nutritious bone broth packed with collagen that cures my painful cheeks.
The hours of boiling fill the air with a savory fog that condenses on the windows and turns my home into a tropical oasis in the frozen desert. When I finally sit down to eat, a milky broth and fatty morsels of meat are the rewards for my patience.
This meal is best served with a side of well fermented radish kimchi (to help cut through the fat and balance the soup) and a heaped bowl of steamed white rice. You can add a dash of soy sauce, sesame oil and red pepper flakes to enhance the broth if you wish.
About 3 pounds oxtail
1 ½ pounds daikon
5 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and black pepper to taste
6 stalks green onion
Carefully trim off the excess fat from the oxtail pieces.
Rinse them well in cold water, running your hands over them to catch any bone fragments that might still be attached.
Submerge in cold water and allow to soak for at least 4 hours, or overnight, rinsing and exchanging for fresh water a couple times.
Rinse the oxtails again and transfer to a large stock pot.
Cover with water and bring to a boil.
Allow the oxtails to boil for 15 minutes. The water will foam and turn murky and brown.
After 15 minutes, drain and rinse the oxtails and wash the pot thoroughly.
Peel the daikon but do not slice.
Return the oxtails to the clean pot and add the garlic, whole peeled daikon, 2 teaspoons salt, and cover with water.
Cover and cook until the pot comes to a rolling boil.
Uncover and reduce the heat to medium low.
Simmer for about 3 hours until the meat is very tender but still attached to the bone, and the radish is soft. You will need to add water periodically as it reduces. Keep the bones submerged.
Remove the meat and radish from the broth and allow to cool before putting in an airtight container. Refrigerate.
Wait for the broth to cool to nearly room temperature, then cover and refrigerate overnight.
By the next day, the broth will have separated. There should be a layer of solidified fat floating on top that can be removed with a spoon or skimmer. Discard the fat.
Return the broth to a pot. The broth should be very thick when cold, almost gelatinous, but will melt as it is heated.
Slice your radishes into bite sized pieces and add to the pot.
Bring the broth and radishes to a simmer before returning the meat to the soup.
Allow the soup to cook for 15 minutes then remove from the heat.
Portion into bowls and top each bowl with a hefty serving of chopped green onion and freshly cracked black pepper.
Note: The hours of boiling will leave a greasy film on the surfaces of your kitchen. Every time I make this soup, I must thoroughly clean behind and above the stove and all the surrounding surfaces. This is the real reason why I only make this a couple times a year.