Our urban culture doesn’t appreciate the true value of veal tail. It is a pity, but it’s not too late to turn the tables in our favor, as there are a few good minutes left in this round, if you don’t mind my wording. I found veal tails at Metro (vacuum packed), at a fairly reasonable price. In the market place they are cheaper, but they are harder to find. Four tails were less than 30 lei. I made out of them two pans of stew that fed 6 people and I even gave some to neighbors, just to have a taste. Why two? First, because I had plenty of raw material, second, because by using the same amount of electric power (of the oven) I was able to obtain two different dishes and third, because I wanted to explore two directions, a European one and an Asian one. My story begins with the European one:
I washed the tails, I removed the layer of thick skin from the surface (this is not the skin covering the animal on the outside, that had already been removed, but it’s a hard tissue that doesn’t cook regardless of how long you keep it on fire) and I left the pieces as you see them. Cutting is easy if you put the knife between the vertebrae, in the middle, in the softest, most deepened area. I heated a pan with a bit of oil and I browned the tails on all sides, not only for the taste, but also to slightly burn the pan.
I chopped three onions, a hot pepper, a bell pepper, two cloves of garlic. I put them in the pan from which I removed the tail pieces.
After the vegetables absorbed the heat (without browning), I poured in the contents of a can of tomatoes (450 grams). The tomato paste deglazed the pan. I left it on the stove until it started to caramelize (8-10 minutes).
I put the veal tails back in the pan and covered them with hot water. I also added three bay leaves, a pinch of coarse sea salt, 10-12 peppercorns, a bit of grated nutmeg.
I covered the pan and placed it into the pre-heated oven, at 150 degrees Celsius, for 4 hours. I removed the foil from the pan, I took out the grease from the surface, I added 4 potatoes cut into quarters, 2-3 sliced carrots, a few pieces of artichoke that had already been marinated (this is how I bought it from Italians), a bit of tarragon. I stirred and I left the pan in the oven for another hour, but this time without the foil.
The stew had more sauce, but I preferred putting less in the plate for photographic reasons.
Next to it, I served an avocado, chili pepper, bean sprout and caper salad (which also matched the second stew).
For the Asian style stew, I did basically the same, yet in a different manner. Here it is:
I cleaned/washed/diced carrots, onions, garlic, ginger, hot pepper. I slightly browned them in a pan (in which I had previously browned the tails).
Up until the step with the canned tomatoes (inclusively), the steps were the same. Afterwards began the important changes. The first one: I poured 150 milliliters of lime juice over the meat.
Instead of covering the tails with water, I covered them with beef stock (made from roasted bones), in which I boiled cinnamon, cloves and cardamom. I put the lid on and left the pan in the oven for four hours. I then removed the lid, added three tablespoons of oyster sauce, a tablespoon of fish sauce, a tablespoon of soy sauce.
I completed this stew by adding to it a handful of cilantro leaves.
I ate it with rice noodles, shimeji mushrooms, bean sprouts, cilantro leaves and chili pepper and garlic sauce (Sriracha).
Both stews were appreciated, but the classical one was preferred to the Asian one.
You will be able to come across the Asian style stew and a wonderful veal tail soup, also prepared in Asian style, on Saturday, May 10th, at noon, at Escargot, on 101 Toamnei street, Bucharest. I couldn’t refuse my friends’ invitation there, therefore I will cook these two goodies for all those who wish to spend lunchtime in the glycine garden. Reservations and other details here.
Special thanks to
Oana Bodnariuc, Authorized Translator