Sop Buntut, Oxtail Soup (Part II)


I did the lengthy cooking of the base soup the day before, post here. Bring the soup back up to a boil and add the finishing touches. I don’t recall any potatoes or carrots in my Sop Buntut in Jakarta, but every single recipe I checked made it sound like potatoes and carrots were a normal ingredient, so I decided to include them. I cubed two large potatoes and about 5 carrots and sauteed them in a bit of butter until semi-cooked. These were then added to the simmering soup with some sliced leeks and cooked for a few minutes until done. At the last minute, I added some sliced fresh tomatoes and plated this up in large individual soup bowls. Sprinkle with some chopped kinchay or Chinese celery and this was dinner last night…


It seems the history of this soup goes back to the times when Indonesia was a colony of the Dutch… It was essentially a boiled beef soup, but the abundance of spices in the Indonesian setting added a wonderful twist to the flavor of the broth, and it was served with lots of sambal or chili paste, along with kecap manis and all the other side dishes common to Indonesian cuisine. This wasn’t exactly the soup I enjoyed so many times all those years ago, but it was pretty darned good. An 8.0/10.0 for sure. I think I would skip the browning of the beef step the next time around, to get a softer, silkier meat and a lighter colored broth. But the step of removing the coagulated fat is definitely a modern twist that is necessary in these fat-laden times… The one critical thing that I forgot to add was some deep fried sliced shallots, and that would have been a really nice flavor and textural component.


This was incredibly hearty, the broth flavorful and a touch mysterious to the unfamiliar palate. We had guests for dinner on Sunday night and they had spent several years in Malaysia and were familiar with similar soups, and let’s just say their bowls were cleared… :)


20 Responses

  1. one of the things i love about you blog are you gorgeous photos. i can almost taste and savor the soup just by looking at them! kalami! :)

  2. hmmm, want to try this at home. I can easily get the ingredients because there are lots of Indonesian groceries here. I also have an Italian cookbook by Patricia Wells with an amazingly simple but flavorful oxtail recipe you cook for 4 hours.

  3. I like hearty soups and are a mainstay of my “diet phase.” MM, did you eat this by itself since the broth was thin anyway or did you feel the need for rice/bread?

  4. Try browning the oxtail in a regular pot in low to moderate heat. Season with a little patis and cover the pot while meat is simmering in its own juice. As the liquid evaporates, the meat will brown gently. Then add water (and your spices) to boil/simmer till meat is tender. Skim off the scum as usual. I always cook my meat nilaga and sinigang this way.

    I find that the soup has more body and the meat more flavorful rather than both being bland and flat when simply boiled. Adding cold water ( as opposed to hot) as it heats up, gives it more time for the soup to gently extract the flavor from the scant meat yet keeps the meat’s flavor as well. I learned this from our cook from Nueva Ecija when the kids were growing up.

  5. Will bring with me my complement of spices and definitely try this in Brazil where the birds and amphibians voraciously keep the insect population well in check leaving the tails of cattle hardly ever used for swatting resulting in more tender and quicker cooking tails. Why they practically give them away too specially when compared to the Toronto shop I frequent where the demand of fellow Filipinos, Koreans and Vietnamese bid the price of oxtail double that of rib-eye steak.

  6. will eat oxtail cooked any way. love it in sinigang. skimming off the fat was de rigeur at home so i always do that when i would cook soupy or saucy meat dishes. can’t believe some people never did! or still don’t?!?

  7. Hi. This is my favorite dish whenever I travel to JKT. It was through my Indonesian friends that I found out about this. The best Sop Buntot can be found in Borubodur Hotel in JKT. I was lucky that my friends took me there because they knew how much I loved this. The soup was the most flavorful that I tasted among the Sop Buntots that I tried.

  8. MM and Ragamuffin: I hope you don’t need to buy the Kecap Manis if you use a lot of it. …There a lot of recipes for it if you google it. I learned to do this from my sister’s sister-in-law who is married to a wonderful Indonesian guy. She learned this from her hubby’s grandma. All it is is ….get 2 bottles of mushroom soy (really dark soy) and 1 kg. bag of demerara sugar. Boil this together and let cool and store them in clean bottles. …makes about 4 bottles. This Kecap Manis is better than store bought!

    A similar kind of soup, MM, is what usually awaits for us when we visit my in-laws. My father-in-law would ask me what we want to eat and we always requested for this one. My father-in-law BLANCHES the ox tails first in boiling water,, drain it, then pat dry …then he would brown it in a little oil. Remove from the pan, then he would add a big knob os smashed ginger, brown it lightly and add thick slices of onion, celery and carrots. For spices, he used a few star anise. He proceeded to add the oxtails, a little black bean sauce with garlic and hoisin plus a little soyo. …cold water is added seasoned to taste and left to simmer for hours. Next day, he skimmed off the fat and reheated it again. At the very last end, he usually adds thick chunks of tomatoes. This soup is sooooo satisfying and we never tireof it!

  9. And here I was thinking it would be perfect for my diet, hehe. With the pickles, dipping sauce and chili, sounds like a rice killer indeed.

  10. Nice macro shot on the plated dish, MM!!! It sure is appetizing and worth trying. Btw, I would like to thank you for posting that paella negra and callos recipe from the archives. I did it the first time last sunday when relatives came to visit and boy were they overly satisfied!!! Thanks again! I did scrape off the fat from the boiled tripe. I decided to include litid as well aside from pata, for that gelatin-like sauce, and it turned out well.

  11. MM, This soup is really good! I have tried it many times at Shangrila Jakarta. For me it goes really well with krupuk.

  12. betty q,I’ll definitely make your kecap manis kahit na half of the recipe lang. Everything you have recommended in the past has always produced good results.Thanks!

  13. Can you pls. tell me where i can get the demerara and mushroom soy sauce in the Phils? I bought kecap manis and i thought it taste just like our patis…cant spot the difference.

  14. Faye use dark muscovado instead and some good soy sauce. Btw, kecap manis is a thick goeey sweet salty preparation, nothing like patis at all… could you have been tasting something else? If you can’t be bothered with making it, they sell it in small plastic bottles at the Metro grocery in Market!Market! Fort Bonifacio… navyGOLF, I am glad the paella and callos worked out for you… they involve a bit of work, but when those guests notice the dish… it’s all worth it, isn’t it? bettyq, thanks for that kecap manis shortcut!

  15. thanks for the info on where to buy kecap manis…im planning to cook hainanese chicken rice…any…uhmmm is there any place where i can buy BELACHAN?….i miss singapore……hahahhaha :)

  16. hello bettq, i hope you can see this comment. made your FIL’s version of sop buntot last night. reminded me of one of my amah’s soups and Lingnam beef noodle soup. but i think they used beef kenchi. will try hainanese chicken next (my hubby’s fave dish!). thanks for the memories!! thanks MM once again for your site!

  17. ayn, I think the reference to fat coagulating is akin to it going from a liquid to semi-solid or solid state or turning into “sebo”. If you refer to the previous post on the broth, it was cooled then placed in the fridge, at which point the tallow or fat on the surface solidified and was removed. As for the technical description of coagulation, it is usually applied to blood…



Subscribe To Updates

No spam, only notifications about new blog posts.