How To Make: Oxtail Soup

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.