Oxtail soup can elevate to become an exotic wonder dish with an adventurous twist of Asian flavor.
Malaysian oxtail soup is earthy, meaty, warm and comforting with the bursting flavor from a myriad of local spices. When the soup is served bubbling hot, one mouthful will melt your heart and change the way you appreciate soup forever.
I went for a dinner featuring Chef Norman Musa last week. He is a Malaysian chef based in the UK and was in Kuala Lumpur for a short visit. Among the signature dishes showcased during the buffet such as the rendang Wellington and omelet wrapped in roti jala, I still like the quintessential all time favorite Malaysian style oxtail soup on the buffet line. It is reminiscent what I typically enjoyed at the street vendor in my hometown, which I have not tasted it for some time.
Oxtail soup is called sup ekor in Malaysia and sup buntut in Indonesia. They refer to the same oxtail soup, and the style of cooking is identical. It is prepared by simmering the oxtail until it becomes tender with a myriad of local herbs and spices. The cilantro and deep-fried Spring onion compliment perfectly with the gamey flavor of the soup. This heart meal was once only available at roadside hawker stores but has become part of the buffet repertoire of many large restaurants and five-star hotels.
Popular oxtail soup variations in Malaysia
The Malaysian also replace the oxtail with mutton, chicken bone, and beef to create different types of soup with similar herbs and spices. Nowadays, these soups are served at the locals hawker store as well as in the opulent restaurant.
A great Malaysian oxtail soup needs a good stock to start with, and augmented with a balanced mix of exotic herbs and spices. Good stock is the basis of excellent soup, and therefore it is pertinent to pay attention to it. You need a few hours of simmering to extract the flavor of the bone. Other than that, the entire cooking process is quite straightforward.
The herbs and spices is an integral part of the soup. Each cook has its secret formula of the spice combination. I am using the most common mix of herbs and spices that appeal to most of the local people in this recipe. If this is the first time you prepare this soup, I suggest you adhere to this recipe and make the customization later. As long as you use the same set of oriental herbs and spices, I can assure you that it will taste entirely different from the traditional Scottish or French oxtail soup.
However, the method of preparing the Malaysian oxtail soup is similar to French oxtail soup. The basic concept of straining the stock and remove scum and use low heat to simmer are the same. When you want to serve, ladle the soup into a bowl and garnish with fresh cilantro, spring onions and fried onions. You can enjoy the soup as a meal itself or serve with bread and rice.
If you wish to put your spin on the existing oxtail soup recipe that you have, try this unorthodox way of preparing the soup. (Albeit it is a very common cooking method in Indonesia and Malaysia 🙂 )
Watch this video that shows you how to prepare oxtail soup (2.11 minutes)
- 750 g oxtail , cut into 1-2 cm thick
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 100 g onion cut into small pieces
- 100 g potato , cut into large pieces
- 100 g carrot , cut into thick slices
- 25 g ginger , sliced
- 30 g garlic , sliced
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1.5 liters water
- 5 bird’s eye chilies , cut into half
- 1 stalk coriander leaves
- 100 g tomato , cut into large pieces
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- lime , use juice only
- Fried onions , garnish
- Heat up the vegetable oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the oxtail and sear it until both sides turn slightly brown.
- Add the onion, ginger, garlic and saute together for a minute.
- Add sufficient water to over all the ingredients.
- Put the coriander seeds, cloves, cardamoms, and star anise in a piece of cloth and tie it to form a bouquet garni.
- Add the coriander leaves, ground cumin, cinnamon stick, the bouquet garni and bird's eye chilies.
- Start boiling over high heat until it boils and then continue over medium heat for 2 hours until the oxtail is tender. Skim off any impurity, scum, and fat that accumulates at the top occasionally.
- Add the tomato, potato, and carrot. Simmer for 20 minutes.
- Season with salt, pepper, and sugar.
- When it is ready to serve, squeeze the lime juice into the soup.
- Ladle the oxtail soup into a bowl, garnish with crispy deep fried shallots and coriander leaves. Serve.
8 Tips to prepare oxtail soup (sup ekor)
- You can prepare the oxtail broth a day before. When it is cooled, keep in a plastic container and keep it in the refrigerator. The fat will coagulate on top. You can scoop or pick it up much like a piece of butter and discard it before reheating it.
- Simmer the oxtail over low heat until it is tender. The meat will fall off from the bone when you use the fork to tear it apart.
- Use fresh spices whenever is possible. The herbs and spices play a major role to impart their flavor in this recipe.
- The amount of water stated in this recipes depends on the shape of your pot and also the heat of the stove. Make sure the volume of water is sufficient to cover all the oxtail to extract the flavor efficiently.
- You may want to change the quantities of herbs and spices based on your preference. However, I suggest you follow this recipe if you cook it for the first time. The amount required depends on the freshness of the herbs and also the size. For example, some cardamoms are twice the size of another species. The best practice is to taste it and add more if necessary.
- Prepare the deep fried shallot in advance and keep in an airtight container. The shallots taste best when it is crispy.
- If you want to serve the soup as a one-pot meal, the best way is to complement with butter rolls or steamed rice.
- As an alternative, prepare mutton, chicken or beef soup the same way as oxtail soup. Just cook by following the recipe by substituting the oxtail with the meat that you want.
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