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How To Make: Oxtail Soup

Posted date:  September 26, 2006

Regular readers will know that I’m a big fan of Thai-Muslim cuisine. I like the dried spices, something that’s rarely found in “Buddhist” Thai cooking, I love khao mok, Thai-style biryani, and most importantly, I also live a mere couple kilos from one of the best Muslim restaurants in town. But I also like to make ahaan mussalim at home, and today I made sup haang wua, Muslim-style oxtail soup, for the first time.

The recipe below is taken from an excellent Thai-language cookbook called ahaan mussalim (“Muslim Food“, published by Sang Dad press), although I’ve altered it considerably (the original recipe called for 2 kg of oxtails!). One thing to keep in mind is that when making any kind of Thai food, don’t follow the seasoning directions to the last word. Season to reach a taste that you find favorable, or the primary flavor that the particular dish should have. For instance, this dish should be sour, followed by salty. This basic recipe could also be followed, with some obvious alterations, to make an excellent chicken soup as well.

Oxtail Soup Sup Haang Wua
(Serves 4)


Oxtails 1 kg
Butter 3 Tbsp
Cardamom 4
Cloves 5
Cinnamon 2 small pieces
Onion, chopped 3 Tbsp
Garlic, chopped 2 Tbsp
Ginger, sliced 5 slices
Freshly roasted and ground
coriander seeds 3/4 Tbsp
Freshly roasted and ground
cumin 1/2 Tbsp
Turmeric powder 1/4 tsp
Water 2 l
Crispy fried shallots 100 ml
Salt 3 Tbsp
Coriander root 3
Onion 1/2 large, sliced
Tomato 2, seeded and sliced
Lime juice 100 ml
Small chilies 20, bruised
Coriander 1 bunch, chopped

Place oxtails in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil over high heat, remove from heat and drain water. Set oxtails aside.

In another large saucepan, heat butter over medium-low heat and add cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, chopped onion, garlic and ginger. Saute over medium-low heat until onion is translucent, and add ground coriander, ground cumin, turmeric powder. Saute until ingredients are yellow and fragrant, about two minutes. Add oxtails, water and half of the crispy fried shallots and increase heat. When mixture has reached a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and add and coriander roots and salt. Allow to simmer until oxtails are soft and falling off the bone, at least 2 hours.

Add onion and tomato and half of the lime juice and chilies. Allow mixture to simmer an additional 10 minutes. Taste and add additional salt, lime juice or chilies if necessary. Remove from heat.

Garnish with coriander and remaining crispy fried shallots and serve with rice.

12 Comments for How To Make: Oxtail Soup

Hey Austin,

You should make a trip down to Malaysia soon. There are a lot of great Muslim foods here: oxtail soup, mamak (Indian Muslim), etc.

Have you tried Nyonya food? After reading your post about stinky beans, I have a feeling that you’ll love Nyonya food.

Happy eating!

rasa malaysia: I’ve actually been several times, and will probably be going again next month. The thing is, I always end up going to Penang, which is more Chinese than Malaysian! Where in Malaysia are you?

I’ve never really had much Nyonya food, but based on what I’ve read, would very much like to try it.

oh oh oh i’ve been looking for a good oxtail recipe (as they’re so cheap and i need food to be cheap since i’m broke almost all the time) and this one looks delicious!!!

Just came across your blog. Great stuff, dude! Reminds me how I miss real Thai food. I’m not sure where I can find oxtail soup in Sydney. Most Thai food is either Westernised or fusion. Some places preserve the authenticity for the local community here and succeed, still not as variety tho.

3 Tablespoons of salt!? is that correct?

lexi: Have you tried the recipe yet?

‘pong: A Sydney-based blog, Grab Your Spoon, covers Thai food, but even she admits much of it is not 100% “authentic”

anon: Hmmm… Now you’ve got me thinking. I typically only do 1/2 recipe, and I’m pretty sure I used 1 1/2 Tbsp, but you might want to go easy at first just to make sure.

This soup brings to mind one of my favourite Indian Muslim childhood eats at Newton Food Centre in Singapore : Mutton Soup.
The spices used would be very similar, though mutton will give out a much stronger taste than oxtail and provide even greater oomph as such :-).
Nonya or Straits Chinese cuisine is excellent (like to think of it as Muslim-influenced Chinese food or vice-versa), home to it will be Malacca though we have an excellent dose of it in Singapore too.

Hi Austin, thanks for the interesting oxtail soup recipe. I have been looking for a tasty tail soup recipe to use with Kangaroo tail to add to my recipe book at http://www.EthiCalNutrition.com.au/Flour-Drum_stove.htm, and I think this one does it.


The Sydney chef, David Thompson, now in his own London restaurant, is the exemplar Thai chef of his generation. At one stage the Thai Government installed him as official chef for the country, with the aim of maintaining/reintroducing traditional Thai cooking/recipes which were being lost to modernisation. He retains a presence in Sydney through the Sailors Thai restaurant in The Rocks. I don’t know how authentic this is…Thompson did start on his own evolution of Thai food…but the kitchen’s output always tastes delicious.

hi austin, i have made this soup twice and both times it turned out amazing, with friends and even my mom harassing me for the recipe… thanks so much for sharing!

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I love oxtail soup. Coming from Hatyai, the Southern part of Thailand, the influence of Thai-Muslim food is definitely seen in the oxtail flavor and the popularity of the dish. This is probably one of the most requested Thai food by my family and friends using the recipe from http://www.thaifoodlovers.com/oxtail-soup.html

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