Hawaiian Oxtail Soup

Hawaiian oxtail soup with oxtails, slowly cooked to produce their own broth, with ginger, anise, orange peel, peanuts, chili, mustard greens, onions, and cilantro.

An odd ingredient, one that isn't readily accessible in the stores around here at least, is dried orange peel. Apparently you can buy it pretty easily in Hawaii. What I did for this ingredient is I used a vegetable peeler to strip off a long strip of peel (just the zest) from an orange. This I set on a shelf in my kitchen for a week to dry out. It worked great. I wondered why one would use the dried and not fresh orange peel and I think perhaps it's because of the long cook time; maybe the dried peel holds up better to long cooking? If I didn't think ahead to dry the peel, I would just use a couple teaspoons of orange zest instead.

  • Yield: Serves 4.

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs oxtails
  • 1 strip dried orange peel (zest, not the pith)
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 2-inch piece of fresh ginger, thinly sliced
  • Salt, at least a tablespoon, more to taste
  • 1/2 cup of shelled, skinned, raw peanuts (can sub roasted unsalted peanuts)
  • 1/8 teaspoon chili pepper flakes (or more to taste)
  • A handful of fresh mustard greens, coarsely chopped (about 2 cups, loosely packed)

Garnishes:

  • Fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Green onions, white and green parts, sliced on diagonal
  • Freshly grated ginger

Method

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1 Bring a large pot (5-quart), half filled with water, to a boil. Add the oxtails. Parboil for 30 minutes. Drain the pot. Rinse the oxtails in water. Trim the oxtails of any excess fat.

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2 Return the oxtails to the pot. Cover with water by an inch. Add the orange peel, star anise, ginger, and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer. Cover and let simmer for one hour. Add the peanuts and simmer for 2-3 more hours, until the oxtail meat is tender and falling off the bone.

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3 At the point, you can either skim the fat off the soup and proceed to the next step, or let the soup cool, and chill it overnight in the refrigerator. The next day the fat will have solidified and will be easy to pull up from the top of the soup. The flavors will also have had more of a chance to blend and be absorbed by the oxtails if you let the soup sit overnight.

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4 Bring soup to a simmer. Add the chili pepper flakes and mustard greens. Cook for 5 more minutes, or until the mustard greens are tender.

Serve with garnishes of chopped fresh cilantro, green onions, and freshly grated ginger.

If you want, you can strip the meat off the bones before serving. We prefer the meat served bone-in, in which case you will want to provide a bowl for the bones.

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Comments

  1. the blissful baker

    mmm this is such a unique dish, and what an great combination of flavors! this reminds me of the korean version of oxtail soup that my mom makes all the time.it’s super simple – just oxtails, onion, garlic, ginger, salt, and pepper. it’s delicious!

  2. Irene

    Hi Elise, I often use dried orange peel. It is terrific in tomato recipes like ratatouille or chicken casseroles with tomato bases .

    To get a good supply peel an orange with a potato peeler to get thin strips. Place in oven , low heat , fan bake setting for about 30 mins or until slightly crisp.
    Do keep an eye on it as it can burn . I usually store it in a sealed plastic container in the freezer .
    Love your site here in New Zealand

    Thanks for the tip! ~Elise

  3. mahlookma

    the blissful baker:

    This reminds me of my mom’s oxtail soup as well. Of course, hers uses lemongrass rather than orange peel. :)

  4. Mike Sauve

    I lived in the islands for over 25 years and this the BEST soup. Our favorite place to pick some up was Kam Bowl in Kalihi. (Honolulu) mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm!

  5. Jules

    Have you looked at the carnicerias for oxtails? They’ve usually got beautiful meat, and at a decent price. i can always find oxtails there when I need a fix.

  6. kiku

    I live in Hawaii and there really is nothing like oxtail soup on a cold day. Thanks you for this wonderful recipe.

  7. Renni

    I grew up in Hawaii and oxtail soup is definitely and island favorite. I love to add peanuts as a garnish as well. Thanks for the recipe.

  8. Lester

    This sounds delicious! I’ll be making this over the weekend. The peanuts make me think of a Filipino dish called Kare Kare. I used to beg my mom to make it whenever I’d come home to visit. Any fan of ox tail soups/stews should check it out!

  9. Shibi

    These ono grinds fo broke da mouth!

    I have eaten this tasty soup all of my life. Thanks so much for the recipe! I have always gone to Tip Top Bakery in Lihue for my oxtail soup fix but now… now, I can make it in my mainland home (in my freezing kitchen in San Francisco).

    Mahalo, Elise!

  10. Chris

    Oxtails are regularly stocked at the Publix stores here in the south. I’ve been wanted to try them, thanks for the great recipe!

  11. Jade

    Would this recipe work without the peanuts? I’m allergic to them and am always looking for recipes to try.

    Yes, you could easily make the soup without the peanuts. ~Elise

  12. Audrey

    We dont have mustard greens here in South africa. What could I use instead?

    Try arugula, also known as rocket. ~Elise

  13. winne

    I love oxtail soup. I’ve never tried Orange peel nor peanuts with it. Very interesting. I typically serve mine over noodles (like Pho). I will have to try this version (perhaps this weekend as it’s COLD in so. Cal) minus the peanuts. Delish! Thanks for sharing.

  14. Kate

    Yes, in the islands everyone has their favorite restaurant when it comes to Oxtail soup – my father-in-law would only eat it at LikeLike Drive in.
    My cousin who is a retired Honolulu Fireman (and we all know how good the firemen cook) makes the best Oxtail Soup you can imagine. In addition to browning the oxtail in a pan first, he adds to the soup: shiitake mushroom and other mushrooms, dried red date, shredded bamboo shoots, fresh sliced lotus root, baby corn….and of course the raw peanuts, star anise and orange peel. The large amount of ginger is crucial! He also adds oyster sauce and a couple shots of whiskey to the broth.
    He sets out many garnishes – mustard cabbage, sliced par boiled baby bok choy, cilantro, extra ginger, green onion….
    It is a party in your mouth!!
    And if you’re ever in Vegas – the California Hotel downtown has an upstairs restaurant that serves the best Oxtail Soup outside of Hawaii!

    Great ideas, thanks Kate! ~Elise

  15. Ana

    This sounds very tasty. We also have a soup called cosido.We use the oxtail & beef shank, the difference is we mix it with squash,carrots,celery, corn onions,& cilantro it’s also very tasty. It’s traditional in Mexico.

  16. Kate

    I believe it has Chinese origins and as you know Hawaii is a melting pot of Asian and Polynesian cuisine. It is not something you’d find at a tourist spot but the local “coffee shops” usually offer it.

  17. Debbie

    We love oxtail stew in our family. Our Asian supermarket has whole oxtails in the display case. I choose one and the butcher saws it up for me. If there is an Asian market near you, go check it out. :-)

  18. gingerroot

    Thanks so much for this recipe! Honolulu is my hometown, although I’ve never made oxtail soup until your post. I made it tonight and it was delicious- perfect for our blustery, Hawaiian winter weather tonight. I’ll be making this again and again.

  19. kenneth

    You can find dried orange peel pretty easily if you have an Asian supermarket near you. It’s usually in the snack and candy aisle.

    Thanks! ~Elise

  20. Donna L.

    My Cantonese grandmother often made oxtail soup for the family. She removed the oxtails and served the broth first, then we’d dip the meat in a little soy sauce and eat it with rice.

  21. arlene

    My mother always saved the tangerine peels and dried them for use in soups such as this. I believe the chinese oranges are more like tangerines than the oranges here in the USA. Like the lemons, the chinese lemons are more like meyer lemons than the regular lemons we are used to.

    Good suggestion on the tangerine peels, as they have much less bitter pith than our standard navel oranges. Thanks! ~Elise

  22. Rachel

    I love this! Especially how you titled it ‘Hawaiian’ Ox Tail Soup. I was born and raised in Hawaii and this is one of my grandmothers favorites. She is Hawaiian Filipino and like most of the local dishes you never know where they came from, lol Hawaiian, Japanese, Chinese, Filipino it’s all yummy. One of my favorite dishes is pastele and that’s A Traditional Puerto Rican Dish.

    I will definitely be a nice surprise to make this for my grandmother.

    Thanks

  23. Diana

    Mmmm, being from Hawaii I grew up on oxtail soup. It was one of my favorite menu items at Zippy’s (kind of a Hawaiian Dennys but better) and I crave it when the weather turns cold here in Washington. Thanks for sharing this I’ll definitely give it a try!

  24. Shannon

    Thanks for the recipe, Elise. I made this, starting yesterday, and ate it today. I am not sure what I did wrong or if I was expecting something different, but it just wasn’t as flavorful as I thought it would be. I also thought the oxtails were difficult to work with – I’m a pretty experienced home cook but apparently not with oxtail. I am definitely interested in ordering this next time I’m in HI to see how the locals do it.
    The oxtails did make a nice gelatinous broth, which would be a great base for other soups.
    I was able to make the dried orange peel pretty easily – just thinly peeled some navel oranges, set my toaster oven on 200 convection. They were ready in about 30 minutes.

    Hi Shannon, you may need to add more salt. Also this soup isn’t nearly as strongly flavored as traditional oxtail stew. Much of the flavor is going to come from the add-ins like the the ginger and star anise. ~Elise

  25. Stephanie M at Together In Food

    Mm, I love oxtail soup. This is similar to the version my Indonesian grandma used to make. It’s great with a dash of vinegar at the end as well.

  26. Kisha

    I want to try this, but how would one make it in the crockpot/slow cooker? Just throw it all in after parboiling and removing excess fat? Thanks!

    Yes, I think that’s how I would do it if using a slow cooker. ~Elise

  27. Sonia (Restaurant Baby's sister)

    My dreams came true this holiday, and I finally got a dutch oven. The first recipe that I tried in it was this one, and it made my house smell so mmm mmm goooooood.

    For the dried orange peel, we used “guo pei” which is dried orange/citrus peel that you can buy at Chinese grocery stores. We added a couple whole cloves to the initial broth (per my sister’s suggestion to make it more Chinese-y). And at the end, we added in roughly chopped daikon (in addition to the greens).

    I can’t wait to make it again!

  28. Garrett

    Made it and loved it. I used fresh orange zest and kale as that was what I had and it worked out just fine.

  29. Madeline

    Thanks Elise for such a great recipe! We made it twice now!

  30. TR Cunning

    The benefit of dried citrus peel is mostly in the storage. The assumption is that you’ll save the peel of any citrus you eat the flesh of and when it dries it becomes shelf stable and can be kept for later use.
    That’s why I find jars of citrus peel so odd. Dried spices I understand, I’m no green thumb and it’d be silly to buy herbs just to dry them but for citrus peel all you need to do is not throw them away or let them mold.

  31. thwoo

    Just made the Oxtail Soup tonite, and it was delicious~! The flavor was very Asian and as a Chinese I just love the star anise taste….I sure will try lemongrass as suggested by another poster for another flavor….

  32. Zach

    Hi Elise,
    Just made your oxtail soup recipe today, and it was amazing! Reminded me of my favorite bowl at the Forty Niner Restaurant in Aiea. Thanks for the great recipe! Mahalo!

  33. Chris

    Wow, thanks for the recipe! I grew up on Oahu and I always wondered how to make the popular oxtail soup at restaurants like Zippy’s and Kapiolani Coffee Shop. This recipe is pretty close in flavor to the restaurant versions minus the pepper flakes, although I’ll use less salt next time. I didn’t add any peanuts because I always thought it was pointless, they’re so soft and their flavor is masked by the broth and everything else going on. This oxtail soup was great with shiitake mushrooms and bok choy (my family cannot handle any mustard/spicy type greens ^_^).

  34. HelenHwriting

    Thanks Elise – I will try your recipe for oxtail next time, for a more spicy result.
    Even if I keep the other ingredients simple for slow cooking oxtail or lamb shanks or brisket of beef, I try to include a long strip of citrus zest straight from the fruitbowl – it just cuts through the fat and heightens the flavour development, I find. I have just included this tip in my first ever paid blogpost as a copywriter (just recovering from long term illness).
    Slow cooking is so simple, and perfect right now here in the UK as the snow has arrived, but many people have lost the skill of using cheap but tasty cuts of meat for slow and delicious recipes. Great blog. Always great recipes.
    Thanks! Helen

  35. Pepy @Indonesia Eats

    I love oxtail. Usually I make the Indonesian oxtail soup and enjoy it with green chilies sambal & rice. Now, I have the recipe of the Hawaiian version. Thank you!

    PS: I do like the Caribbean oxtail stew as well but never make it by myself.

  36. Deborah

    I have made oxtail soup for years. Learned from my grandmother who was german. We used it to make a beefy soup with barely. The oxtail meat taste much sweeter to me. We browned them in a stockpot, then added onion, celery, salt, pepper and a bay leaf. Let it simmer for 3 hours and then drained it. Then a can of diced tomatoes was added along with partially cooked barley. Home made bread topped it off! So warming on a cold winter day!!!

  37. SHO

    If I can master this dish, It’ll always feel like home! I’ve always loved oxtail soup. For a more “local kine” experience, add saimin noodles to the soup… so good… Thanks for the recipe!

  38. Maebelle Librando

    Ox Tail Soup/stew…My late mom, always made oxtail stew..I was born & raised on Maui..and this was , to us, a way of life..Your recipe is wonderful and uses just about everything we would use..Huge Mahalo for sharing this with all of us!! I shall make some this weekend.