Have you ever thinking of trying a more exotic version of oxtail soup?  I am referring to the Malaysian oxtail soup.

Imagine adding cumin, coriander, cinnamon stick, and cardamom to the soup, no more bay leaf, thyme, and parsley!

If you wish to put your spin on the traditional oxtail soup recipe that you have, try this unorthodox way of preparing the soup. (Albeit it is a prevalent cooking method in Indonesia and Malaysia 🙂 )

Malaysian oxtail soup

Oxtail soup can elevate to become an exotic wonder dish with an adventurous twist of Asian flavor.

This 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.

Whenever I of for the traditional Malaysian food, I still like the quintessential all time favorite Malaysian style oxtail soup. It is reminiscent of what I typically enjoyed at the street vendor in my hometown, which I have not tasted it for a long time.

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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 coriander leaves and deep-fried onion complement perfectly with the gamey flavor of the soup.

This hearty 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.

Sup buntut or oxtail soup

How to make the authentic Malaysian oxtail soup

Making Malaysian style oxtail soup is quite straightforward. Here is all the detail you need to make an authentic Sup Ekor with an unforgettable taste.

The oxtail:

Sear the oxtail until both sides turn slightly brown with some vegetable oil in a skillet. Browning adds flavor to the oxtail. Some cooks take the shortcut by skipping this step but indeed is no the best option. Once you have done this, place the oxtail in the stock pot with cold water.

You can replace the oxtail with mutton, chicken, or beef for this recipe. Sup Ayam (chicken soup) is prepared in the same way by substituting the oxtail with chicken pieces.

The Aromatics

Onions, ginger, and garlic are the aromatics for this soup. Saute until the onion caramelized, then add to oxtail in the stock pot. Simmer over low heat to extract the flavor of the oxtail.

The herb and spices

The herbs and spices are 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.

The wholes herbs ( the coriander seeds, cloves, cardamoms, star anise and star anise) is best to toast lightly on a pan, and then place in a piece of cloth and tie it to form a bouquet garni. Leave it in the pot and let simmer to extract the flavor.

Add the ground herbs and spices directly into the pot and simmer.

The vegetables

Let the soup boils for two hours or until the flavor of the oxtail is fully extracted. Add the carrots, tomatoes, and potatoes and simmer for another twenty minutes before serving.

Oxtail soup

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.

The Malaysian oxtail soup recipe

Yield: 4 people

Oxtail soup (Malaysian style)

Oxtail soup (Malaysian style)

If you wish to put your spin on the existing oxtail soup recipe that you have, try this unorthodox way of preparing the soup.

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 20 minutes


A- for the soup

  • 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
  • 3 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
  • 4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

B- for the spices

C- for garnish

  • lime, , use juice only
  • Fried onions, , garnish


  1. Heat up the vegetable oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the oxtail and sear it until both sides turn slightly brown.
  2. Add the onion, ginger, garlic and saute together for a minute.
  3. Add sufficient water to over all the ingredients.
  4. Put the coriander seeds, cloves, cardamoms, and star anise in a piece of cloth and tie it to form a bouquet garni.
  5. Add the coriander leaves, ground cumin, cinnamon stick, the bouquet garni and bird's eye chilies.
  6. 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.
  7. Add the tomato, potato, and carrot. Simmer for 20 minutes.
  8. Season with salt, pepper, and sugar.
  9. When it is ready to serve, squeeze the lime juice into the soup.
  10. Ladle the oxtail soup into a bowl, garnish with crispy deep fried shallots and coriander leaves. Serve.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:

4 servings

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 674Total Fat: 35gSaturated Fat: 11gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 19gCholesterol: 173mgSodium: 2332mgCarbohydrates: 36gFiber: 6gSugar: 15gProtein: 55g

This data was provided and calculated by Nutritionix on 6/1/2019

    29 replies to "Oxtail soup that will melt your heart with an adventurous twist"

    • KP Kwan

      Hi, this is KP Kwan. I am happy to see you at this comment area, as you have read through my recipe. I am happy to reply any questions and comments as soon as possible.

    • Kwong

      Nice and delicious

      • KP Kwan

        Hi Kwong,
        Thank you and hope you enjoy The soup.
        KP Kwan


      Hi Mr Kwan,

      I have always wanted to make a local soup like sup ayam or sup kambing found at local Mamak stalls. Is your oxtail soup recipe the same as those? Many thanks for sharing, will try it.

      • KP Kwan

        I assume you are from Malaysia, and if you are, then this is very close to what you can get from the local roadside stores.
        You may find that it is different from what you expect, as some Malaysian mamak store blends the vegetables (carrots, onions, etc.) and becomes a thick soup. If you prefer that, just blend them before adding to the stock.

        KP Kwan

    • Amy

      Loving this combination of oxtail soup. This is a must have for the cold weather coming up. Thanks for the helpful tips also!

      • KP Kwan

        Hi Amy,
        I am glad you like my version of oxtail soup. Do try it out.
        And I like Vietnamese food too 🙂
        KP Kwan

    • Dozza

      You talk about onion in the method but no onion in the list of ingredients? I put it in any way. Making this today….sounds yum ?

      • KP Kwan

        Dear Dozza,
        Thank for pointing out the error. I have amended it immediately to include the amount of onion in the recipe.

        Hope you like it and enjoy:)

        KP Kwan

    • Charan


      where does the ground cumin go .
      I dont think you can tie that up ?

      • KP Kwan

        Hi Charan,

        I use ground cumin and should just put into the soup, not in the bouquet garni. I have just made the changes in the recipe and thanks for pointing it out.

        KP Kwan

    • Sybren

      Can you tell me what to do with the cinnamon stick? Thanks in advance.

      • KP Kwan

        Hi Sybren,

        You just need to add the cinnamon stick along with other ingredients in step 5 of the recipe into the water and simmer. I have left it out in the recipe and thanks so much for highlighting it.

        KP Kwan

    • Steve

      Looks really good and making it tonight

      • KP Kwan

        Hi Steve,
        Thanks for trying it.
        Hope you will enjoy the oxtail soup.

        KP Kwan

    • Joy


      I made this soup for the first tine. Your recipe is phenomenal! My husband loved, I loved it. I will be making this regularly. Thanks for the awesome recipe.

      • KP Kwan

        You are welcome to Joy. Glad to know that your family likes the oxtail soup.

    • Brenda Beale

      Love, Love, Love this soup!!! Thank you so much for sharing it! I used my instant pot and cut the time to 40 minutes of pressure cooking followed by a 20 minute natural release. I also used chicken broth instead of water and about 3 Tlb of tomato paste (mixed in when sautéing the onion, garlic and ginger) My husband spent a lot of time in Penang and says this is better than what he could get there.
      We will be eating this soup a lot over the winter.

      • KP Kwan

        Hi Brenda,
        Thanks so much for trying the recipe, which I am sure there is a nostalgic filling of your time spent in Penang.
        Glad that you and your husband like it.
        KP Kwan

    • Chen

      I followed your recipe but with a much reduced amount of spice as most of them are out of stock because of COVID! Nevertheless it was very delicious and my family of 9 loved it! Thank you for sharing!

      • KP Kwan

        Hi Chen,
        I am glad to know that it works even though it is a tone down version due to the out-of-stock situation.
        Stay safe, and enjoy cooking!
        KP Kwan

    • Jessica

      Is there a good substitute for birds eye Chili’s? I have young kids so spicey doesn’t always go over well.

      • KP Kwan

        Hi Jessica,
        Bird’s eye chilies are very hot. I suggest you leave it out so that everyone can enjoy the soup. It still tastes good.
        KP Kwan

    • Fred

      Hi KP,

      This seems to be a very good recipe and I plan to prepare it this week with an oxtail if available. If oxtail is not available, I like to use chicken chunks with bones instead. In that case: how long should I simmer the chicken chunks? I assume chicken won’t need 2 hrs plus 20 minutes of simmering like the oxtail pieces. What do you think: perhaps 45 minutes of simmering in total for chicken chunks with bones? Should I sear the chicken chunks as well for extra flavour?

      • KP Kwan

        Hi Fred,
        If you use chicken chunks, 45 to 1 minutes should be good enough. In Malaysian over, we do not sear it, but it is a good way to enhance the flavor.
        KP Kwan

        • Fred

          Hi KP,

          Just to let you know that the oxtail was available today and I prepared this delicious soup. I cut down a bit on chilies (and salt) since we don’t eat that spicy. We really loved this oxtail soup and I will certainly prepare it more often in the future. Thank you so much for the recipe!

          I was thinking about the version with chicken (sup ayam). To extract more collagen while keeping the chicken meat flavourful, I might take out the chicken (with bones) after ca. 30-35 minutes of simmering and separate the chicken meat from the chicken bones. Then I’ll return the chicken bones* plus skin to the pot to simmer for another 1 to 1.5 hour. At the very end I’ll remove the chicken bones from the pot and return the chicken meat to the pot. What do you think? Is it worth a try?

          *A tea bag could be used for the smaller chicken bones, making it easier to remove them from the soup at the end.

          • KP Kwan

            Hi Fred,
            I think your idea is OK to preserve the tenderness of the meat. You may also want to cook the chicken at a bare simmer to avoid it from becoming tough. Chicken cook at 70°C, so it does not need boiling water to cook through it.
            Best regards,
            KP Kwan

    • Fred

      Hi KP,

      Since this recipe was a big success I want to prepare the soup again, but this time with goat stewing meat or lamb stewing meat (I think Malaysians call this soup ‘sup kambing’, regardless the type of meat: goat or lamb, right?). I have no idea if goat meat and lamb meat need more or less simmering time than oxtail (for which you use 2 hrs and 20 minutes of simmering in this recipe, which works perfectly well). Do you have a clue? And are there other important things I should pay attention to when using goat meat or lamb meat? Is goat meat for instance very gamey and do I need to pre-process it first?

      Thanks and kind regards,

      • KP Kwan

        Hi Fred,
        Normally I do not pre-process it first. The heavy spices in the soup should cover any gamey taste of goat meat.
        If you are outside Malaysia, chances are you will get lamb which is more tender. As such, Two hours and above will be too long in my opinion. I do not know exactly how long it takes, but the endpoint should be when the meat is tender and soft.
        KP Kwan

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