“Drawing on the intense flavours of Singapore’s cuisine, my braised oxtail with shredded papaya is a luxurious dish and incredibly rich in flavour. The star here is the XO sauce, my take on the classic Chinese version.” Adam Liaw, Destination Flavour Singapore






Skill level

Average: 5 (10 votes)


  • 1.5 kg eye fillet
  • 2 green papaya
  • sea salt, to taste
  • a drizzle of grapeseed oil
  • 1 punnet red shiso cress
  • 1 punnet marigold cress


Singapore XO sauce

  • 50 g dried prawns
  • 50 g dried scallops
  • 250 ml (1 cup) grapeseed oil
  • ½ cup thinly sliced red Asian shallot
  • 1½ tbsp finely chopped garlic
  • 1-2 large red chillies, halved, seeds removed, thinly sliced
  • ½ sheet bak kwa (see Note), finely shredded
  • 1 tbsp Korean chilli powder
  • 1 tbsp dark soy sauce


Braised oxtail

  • 6 red Asian shallots
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 2 tbsp grapeseed oil
  • 500 g oxtail pieces
  • 1 litre (4 cups) beef stock
  • 1½ tbsp soy sauce
  • 60 ml (¼ cup) Chinese rice wine (Shaoxing)
  • 60 ml (¼ cup) kecap manis

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


To make the Singapore XO sauce, rinse the prawns and scallops, then place in a steamer basket and steam for 45 minutes. Remove and, when cool enough to handle, place in a mortar and pestle and gently pound until the scallops are finely shredded.

Heat 60 ml (¼ cup) of the oil in a heavy-based saucepan over low heat. Add the shallot, garlic and chilli and cook for 5-6 minutes or until soft. Add the prawns, scallops, bak kwa, chilli powder, soy sauce and remaining oil, and cook over very low heat, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, to make the braised oxtail, place the shallots and garlic in a blender and process until smooth. Heat the oil in a heavy-based frying pan over high heat. Cook the oxtail pieces until golden on both sides, then remove from the pan. Reduce the heat to low, add the shallot and garlic puree and cook, stirring regularly, for 5-6 minutes or until fragrant. Return the oxtail to the pan and add the remaining ingredients. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 hours or until the meat is falling off the bone and the sauce reduced to a glaze. Remove from the heat and, while still warm, remove the meat from the bone. Place the meat in a bowl and add just enough of the glaze to moisten.

To cook the beef, preheat a water bath or sous vide to 50°C. Wrap the beef fillet tightly in three layers of plastic wrap and seal the ends well. Cook for 2 hours.

Peel and seed the green papaya. Using a vegetable peeler or mandolin, cut into thin ribbons, then cut into a very fine julienne. Place in a bowl of iced water until ready to serve, then drain well.

Unwrap the beef fillet and season well with salt. Heat a little oil in a large frying pan over high heat. When hot, cook the beef fillet until browned on all sides. Remove from the pan and rest for 5 minutes, then cut into slices and divide among plates. Place a ring of shredded papaya around the beef. Add enough of the XO sauce to the oxtail meat to suit your taste, the place on top of the beef. Scatter with the mixed cresses and serve immediately.



• Bak kwa is an Asian type of jerky, made of pork. It is available in select Asian stores. If you’re in Sydney, Chinatown is a good place to search.


Image by Tan Zexun.


Destination Flavour Singapore airs Thursdays at 8pm on SBS. Visit the program page for more details, recipes and guides.