It turned out to be a nasty attack of tonsillitis, but it's been a sobering couple of days. You just expect to pick yourself up and get on with it, but everytime I exerted myself even a little, my recovery backtracked a few paces. Coupled with that, the toddler came down with a nasty case of chicken pox, meaning he couldn't leave the house - and he was so unsettled with a sick mum at home, I ended up hiding at my mum and dad's empty house, snatching a couple of hours' sleep when I could.
With my parents abroad on holiday, I've had to DIY it with the Chinese tonic soup. Their answer to everything lies in soup and I'm inclined to agree with them as the years go by. I searched high and low for a guinea fowl (found one in Sainsbury's Christleton), in the absence of a black-skinned chicken (烏雞) for improvising a soup, and I lived on it for a couple of days.
Tonight I'm making oxtail and black bean soup in the slow cooker. This is a lovely, hearty soup. The taste is fresh and savoury, with only a few simple ingredients. The oxtail and beans can be drained and served as a separate dish with rice - sprinkle over some light soy sauce, some ground white pepper and a few drops of sesame oil.
- 750g oxtail
- 150g dried black beans, soaked overnight
- 2 thick slices ginger, peeled and bashed with the flat of a cleaver
- 1/4 dried tangerine peel
- 4 dried shiitake mushrooms, reconstituted in hot water (keep the water)
- 2 dried jujubes, reconsitituted in water, or alternatively 1 tsp sugar
- Salt to taste
- If you have time, soak the oxtail for a couple of hours. Trim off as much excess fat as you can, place in a pan and pour over boiled water. Boil gently for about 5 minutes to remove the scum and impurities. Drain and rinse with cold water
- Drain the black beans and rinse with water. Place in a pan with fresh water and boil vigorously for 10 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water
- Soak the tangerine peel in hot water until soft. Using a sharp knife, scrape any pith from the peel - this will make the soup bitter. Discard the pith
- Place the black beans, oxtail, tangerine peel, ginger, jujubes and shiitake mushrooms into a slow cooker. Add the mushroom-soaking water, then add 6 bowls of water until all of the ingredients are covered
- Switch on the slow cooker and cook on low for 8-10 hours
- After cooking, skim any oil from the surface, taste the soup and add salt to taste. If you have not used jujubes, then add a teaspoon of sugar
- Serve with rice and vegetables - the oxtail and black beans can be served separately from the soup, with a little light soy sauce, white pepper and sesame oil to dress
|Meat and beans served separately from the soup|
|Hearty dinner with some steamed rice and boiled broccoli|