I loosely followed this recommended recipe from epicurious.com, which I’ll summarize here:
Rinse oxtails and place in a slow-cooker with a gallon of water. Set the slow cooker to ‘simmer’. While the water heats up, char a large piece of ginger over the stove for about 5 minutes until blackened. Rinse under water. Then char half an onion directly over the stove for 5 minutes or more until partially blackened. Rinse, and place that in the soup too.
It took too much effort to get all the spices the recipe called for so I just took 2 tblsp five spice powder and spooned it inside a cloth bag to let it steep in the soup. Let the soup stay on simmer for at least 3 hours. Then let the slow cooker stay on ‘warm’ over night.
After all the simmering, the soup is going to be cloudy. Strain the whole thing in a coffee filter into some takeout containers and stop at this point if you’re already exhausted.
Maybe the next day, pre-make your rice noodles and rinse them in cold water to remove some of the excess starch and to stop the noodles from cooking further (tip: mix in a bit of sesame oil to make sure the noodles stay separated). Separate the noodles into portions for your bowls. Then prep the rest of your bowl – chop your scallions, basil, and cilantro, dump it in your bowls with the noodles, and heat up the broth to a roiling boil. Right before serving, add a splash of fish sauce to taste and season with salt and pepper.
All in all, it took a lot of prep work to pull this dish off but planning was the most challenging part of it. It helps to have someone to be an extra set of hands 🙂