oxtail soup, hawaiian-style. sorta.

oxtail soup, sorta hawaiian-style.

i was asked to contribute a recipe to the latest issue of guahan magazine, a local magazine (guahan is the ancient/chamoru name for 'guam'). so what did i write about? a hawaiian favourite, oxtail soup. ha.

actually, it's a dish of chinese origin that was embraced by the okinawan population in hawaii and modified; to make matters slightly more complicated, i offered a version that borrows heavily from vietnamese cuisine, with loads of fresh herbs and a bit of citrus to lift the meaty, gingery, star anise-scented soup. this is much like the oxtail soup that i've tried at the mermaid bar in the neiman-marcus in ala moana (don't laugh, it's good) in honolulu, but owes a lot to the straightforwardness of the soup at the kapiolani coffee shop. the essentials are the meat and gingery,spicy broth, and everything else is extra; it all depends on how simple or how complex you want it to be.

despite its lengthy ingredients list, there is little work involved; the hardest part will be waiting for it to be done. if you are proficient with a pressure cooker, your waiting time will be reduced significantly; if you lack the time, this recipe can be adapted for a crock pot--assemble it before work, and come home to delicious scents wafting from your kitchen.

addendum 05april06: this is one of those soups that tastes better the next day; it definitely benefits from an overnight stay in the fridge.

oxtail soup, hawaiian-style

3-4 lbs oxtail, trimmed of excess fat
2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
salt and pepper to taste

2 large onions, chopped
2 large carrots, diced
2 large celery stalks, diced
1 head of garlic, crushed

1 piece fresh ginger (approx. 3-inches), thinly sliced
3 star anise
3 bay leaves
3 lemongrass stalks, cut and crushed
or 1 piece dried orange peel
or 6 lemon leaves

canola oil
water or chicken stock (about 3 to 4 quarts)

garnish (use all, or choose as you wish):
mustard greens, cut into 1/4-inch strips
thinly sliced red onion
basil leaves
lime wedges
grated ginger
green onion
soy sauce
chili water/hot pepper flakes

place oxtails, sesame oil, salt and pepper in bowl; toss to coat. let it marinate for about an hour.

in a large stockpot, add about a quarter-inch of cooking oil. brown the marinated oxtails over medium-high heat; remove the meat from the pot, and set aside. Add the onions, carrots, celery, and garlic to the pot, and sauté until the onions are translucent. return the oxtails to the pot, along with the ginger, star anise, bay leaves, and lemongrass. add enough water or chicken stock to cover the meat completely; bring to a boil. turn down the heat, and simmer for approximately 2 hours; skim off any fat or scum that rises to the surface. When the meat is fork-tender, remove the oxtails, and strain the soup into a clean saucepan; discard the boiled vegetables and spices. skim the fat off the soup, return the oxtail to the pot, and bring to a simmer. serve with garnishes of your choice.


oooh i love a good oxtail soup. my mum used to make her soup/stew in a pressure cooker and on days when she worked and had uni in the evenings the crockpot would be put to work, so that us girls would have something to eat after school. i must say i really like the guam version, so much more fresh herbs through it. i'll give this a go some time in the next few weeks as i have a crock pot which needs some attention.

Hi Santos! I haven't been able to blog hop lately and I see you've changed your template. It's cool and simple, simply cool. =D

Fine work there Santos. Will try and report back forthwith.

Only thing is - I have trouble convincing anyone in my household, apart from the greedy toad, that oxtail is a year round dish regardless of the stinkingly hot climate we find ourselves in for much of the year.

This looks like something I would love, the use of lemongrass is such a good idea in this recipe but lemon leaves would be ifficult to find here.

This is more like vietnamese noodle soup. But this is more colorful.

Eee! Excuse me while I gush, here. I found your blog while Googling "spam musubi", and am enamored! EEeee-namored! I'm *so* impressed with the pictures you take of your food.

I made your Paradise cake using fruit purees (a vendor from work totally hooked me up, I LOVE living in NoCal, alla that gourmet stuff just lying around)--passion and guava. the lime part I did myself with zest, etc. Try infusing the whipped cream with sliced ginger, that was perfect!

Ok, this soup looks like Pho, looks like awesome. Must try it out on my grandfather (he is from Hilo, like an OG hawaiian) when I visit later this month!

love the green. makes it look extra tasty after reading it.

i defintely want to try this recipe with my crockpot.

Ny mother used to make oxtail soup for me every time I visited and when my grandmother learnt of it, she would make her version of it. I spent many summers eating oxtail soup and I never got sick of it! Love your recipe and photo, Santos!

saff, i would love to see your mum's recipe! how was it prepared?

hi ana, thanks! i'm still working on it, but it's mostly done.

pieman, it's definitely never anything but summer here, so let the naysayers eat something else. actually, the broth, herbs, and veggies alone would be a nice, lighter option.

oslo, i don't have a lemon tree either, so it's definitely an option. i really do like this soup with chinese dried orange peel, but i never remember to stock up when i'm in manila. use any of the three options, and you'd be good to go.

anon, the recipe borrows heavily from vietnamese soups. when i'm in honolulu, usually i get this soup with grated ginger and some cilantro, but i like all the different flora you'll find with a phở.

michelle, thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment. i'm glad the paradise cake worked out for you! it's good, isn't it? super-fluffy and light. i'm jealous that you've got all those purees at your convenience!

hi gustad! i agree with you on that--all the greens make the soup better for me.

maria, i hope you have a big crockpot! i have made this in a regular pot, crock pot, and pressure cooker. the broths come out slightly different in each (the crock pot version comes out cloudier), but it's no less tasty.

hi mm, i would love to see your family's version of it sometime! i love oxtail, and really don't know too many recipes for it; i'd love to expand my repertoire.

Wow, much more sophisticated and cospmopolitan then the simple Kap version, but look very wonderful indeed. I grew up calling it peanut soup.

hi acornbud! i didn't include peanuts in this recipe because it was a little complicated with the straining of veggies and stuff. reid's got a great, simple traditional recipe that uses the peanuts (and a lot less ingredients), that i really like. but i'll leave him to blog about that :)

love the new template santos!

hi flygirl--thanks for your vote of confidence!

hi santos, this is definitely a print-and-keeper - i adore oxtail, i adore pho-type broths, and i adore anything that allows me to just bung it all into a crockpot and cook itself, nary a spatula dirtied...btw, love the new look ;)

See you've improved your template. It certainly looks good now :)

Whoa Baby - Looks great, and even a mention of Kapiolani Bowl! No peanuts though?

Love the sight, and the pics are great! I really love the titanus (marrow) in a "real" oxtail soup - I gotta try your recipe out...it'll be a fresh break from standard oxtail kadu 8o)

I was wondering if you could debunk (or validate) a cooking method...my mom heard from someone that placing a pair of spoons into the soup as it cooks makes the meat more tender. She tried it, and claims that it works...?


hi j! love your new look, too! white is the new black.

hi rabbit, glad you like this better.

kirk, i would've added peanuts to this recipe if i didn't have a 500 word count limit for the article--if i had at least 50 more words, i would've definitely added peanuts!

mike, i've heard that too! i don't know if it works. all i can think of is that the metal spoons conduct and distribute heat better to allow for more uniform cooking at a higher heat than if you didn't add the metal objects to the pot. so i guess the answer would be 'yes! it works!' :D

This one makes me hungry..!
I love your Blog, Thank you :-)

hi chanit! thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment!

Oh my.



you wicked woman, you ;)

oh wow! thanks for the recipe, Santos. This is my usual order at King's Hawaiian, followed by the cake ;-)

Santos, OK, I will try to post the oxtail soup one of these days. Am now on a lamb and chicken kick. I think lamb because Easter is coming and I've got the song Lamb of God stuck in my head and chicken because ... well, they had a sale at the market. LOL.

Thanks for sharing this recipe.

I always use oxtail for kare-kare and nilaga cause i don't know other recipe using oxtail. Now, I can try this one.


I haven't made oxtail soup in such a long time because even though I like it, I can't eat the entire pot by myself.

This sound wonderful though and I wish that I had made myself a pot last month when we got all that rain!

hi jmom! i've never actually been to king's--i'll have to try it when i'm in la next.

mm--it must be the season and the sales, because i've been eating a lot of lamb and chicken lately as well.

hi lani--i don't know any recipes for oxtail except kare-kare, nilaga, and this! i wish i knew more.

reid--a full pot is way too much, isn't it? still, it's good when you can get it.

Thanks for the recipe. I used to fly for Philippine Airlines as a cabin crew and after a tiring 8-hour flight from Manila, I used too relish the YMCA's (near Ala Moana Hotel) version of the soup.

I will definitely try it- I am certain it will bring back pleasant memories.


This looks PERFECT, thank you! I wanted to make something special and savory for a friends birthday. This is IT - I can taste it in my mind and I'm really impressed. My friends and I are big fans of down-home food - but since its a birthday I was looking for something "more." this will make a spectacular starter.

wow, that will be a great birthday meal. your friend is very lucky!

We're making oxtail soup now. Thank you for your great tips. Sounds delicious!!