and you thought duck eggs were strange?

Don’t even bother with a net.

There’s no way you could ever catch the human dynamo who’s fluttering by alphabet soup today. Anne, daughter of the infamous Fran (Duck Egg Disaster), has brought along the perfect recipe for Lunar New Year tomorrow. 

I first met Anne when she was in the second grade. I was visiting Hawai’i, and dropped in to see if Fran was still playing with those obscene duck eggs. Not the least bit shy, Anne asked me to read her a book.

Well, of course — who could refuse such a reasonable, albeit educational request?

I don’t remember which book it was, only that I must have done a really good job of reading aloud, because Anne asked me to read it again. And again. And yet again. With each new request, the little minx pleaded with big puppy dog eyes and giggled like it was the best game: Let’s see if we can drive Aunty Jama out of her mind!

I’m still recovering from that reading marathon, but in the meantime, Anne grew up — now, she’s an English teacher just like her mom. At one point in time, they taught the same subject, the same grade, at the same school, next door to each other. Talk about freaky. But it’s easy to tell them apart. Anne will be the one bouncing off the walls, chattering, and answering to the name “Anne-a-saurus,” (she’s driven other social butterflies back into their cocoons).  

So, without further ado — here’s Anne’s recipe, highly appropriate for celebrating the Year of the Ox. It’s a local favorite, something I remember from childhood. The Chinese, Koreans, soul food lovin’ Southerners, and the British all have their own versions of this soup/stew. The term “oxtail” actually refers to beef tails. Cook them gently for several hours to achieve optimal tenderness, and you’ll be rewarded with a rich, savory meal that will surely ward off the chill.




4-6 lbs oxtails, fat trimmed and removed

4 cloves garlic, crushed

2-3 slices of ginger

Oil, for browning oxtails


1 can chicken broth

½ c mirin

1/3 c shoyu (soy sauce)

2-4 tbsp brown sugar

2 star anise


Green onions, cut into 1” length pieces

1 onion, sliced into large pieces

2 carrots, chunked

1-2 okinawan sweet potatoes (use your favorite potato for stew if you can’t get these)

(OR your favorite stew veggies, if you don’t like or can’t get these)




Trim the fat off the oxtails. 


Heat some oil and toss in the ginger and garlic to flavor it. Sprinkle on some salt and pepper onto the oxtails and brown them. (You can also toss the oxtails into a bag with a scant ½ c flour, salt and pepper. Shake in the bag, just until coated, and then brown them).


When the oxtails have browned on the outside, add in your chicken or beef broth, mirin, shoyu, brown sugar and star anise. Bring to a boil and taste. Add more shoyu if you want it more salty and more sugar if you want it sweeter. 


Add in your chopped veggies, onions, green onions, carrots, and okinawan sweet potatoes. Bring stew to a boil again then let it simmer over medium low heat. 


Cook for a few hours, or until the oxtails are softened. Serve over rice. 


Here are Anne’s Hawaii-related book recs:

Eddie Wen Go: The Story of the Upside-Down Canoe, by Marion Lyman-Desereau, pictures by Melissa DeSica (Watermark Publishing, 2008).

All I Asking for is My Body, by Milton Murayama (University of Hawai’i Press, 1998).

Pass On, No Pass Back, by Darrell H.Y. Lum (Bamboo Ridge Press, 1990).

Happy Lunar New Year!!

*And don’t forget to listen to the live ALA Webcast tomorrow morning at 7:45 a.m. (MT), to find out who won all the best of the best children’s and young adult book awards! (I’m keeping my fingers, eyes, and toes crossed for Wabi Sabi winning the Caldecott!)

6 thoughts on “and you thought duck eggs were strange?

  1. Oxtail stew over rice. Yummm.

    I just had char siu bao (while thinking of you), siu mai, and fried rice. Long life noodles and glutinous rice cake are next. (It’s already an hour to Monday over here.) Happy Chinese New Year, Jama!

    Into the Wardrobe


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