Hawaiian Oxtail Soup



My family loves beef. In all incarnations, be it a grilled steak, a hearty beef stew or even beef satay. Thanks to them I do make regular forays to wholesale beef outlets at least once a month and if I were not so short on space in the house I would buy another freezer to store meat. I know that eating lots of beef is not kind to our environment (apparently these cows are killing our ozone layer by the methane fumes they emit) so we do try to space out the beef meals a bit. 

Some years back when I went to Hawaii, I was intrigued at how different immigrant cultures had influenced the local food, similar to what we have seen in Singapore. Of course, Japanese food is big there, but it has developed down strange paths – who could think of a more incongruous combination than spam sushi? One of the other surprising dishes I came across was the local oxtail soup, which was a clear soup with obvious Chinese flavor influences (star anise and lots of coriander – what could be more Chinese than that?). It was a refreshing change from the usual tomato-based oxtail stew. Oxtail holds up well to slow cooking and as I hadn’t used my slow cooker for a while I decided to dust off the box and try out this recipe.

Slow cooking is a whole cooking genre by itself. It is a really good tool for busy working people and I remember coming home as a child to my mother’s crockpot meals. I do like how beef holds really well together with slow cooking; more delicate meats like fish and chicken tend to fall apart more easily. Slow cooking low carb also is a relatively easy endeavor as one would just drop starchy vegetables such as potatoes and incorporate nuts, pulses and beans instead. This oxtail soup was an easy cook – I had come back past 10 pm from a late night meeting, dumped the ingredients in the slow cooker, and picked up the soup by 6 am in the morning when I had to dash out of the house for another super long day. Of course, I confused my parents who kept smelling cooking food and were wondering who was cooking in the middle of the night, but made kid #1 really happy with his breakfast in the morning. Kid #1 was pleased. He is a little choosy food-wise compared to kid #2 who can live off the same bread and cheese breakfast for months at a time. So he gave this unorthodox breakfast soup 2 thumbs up and said that this recipe was a keeper. 😄

Hawaiian Oxtail Soup

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 1 kg oxtail pieces
  • 1 L chicken stock
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 5 dried Chinese mushrooms
  • 1 carrot, sliced into 1/2 inch thick rounds
  • 100g skinless raw peanuts
  • 1 tbsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp white pepper
  • 1 star anise
  • 3 large heads of Shanghai greens, cut into 2 cm width
  • 1 bunch of coriander with leaves plucked off
  • 2-3 sprigs of spring onions, white and green parts sliced into small rounds


  1. Soak the dried mushrooms in the hot water for about 5 minutes.
  2. Put the oxtail, mushrooms in the soaking liquid, carrots and peanuts into the slow cooker and pour over the chicken stock. You can add more water to ensure that the meat is fully covered.
  3. Add the star anise, pepper and crushed red pepper flakes.
  4. Slow cook for 6-8 hours.
  5. Add the cut Shanghai greens into the pot and stir, cooking for about 3 minutes till slightly wilted.*
  6. Serve in bowls, adding the spring onions and coriander on top.

* as the oxtail is rather oily, you may want to skim off the top layer of oil over the soup before adding in the greens.

Another good soup to go in my microwaveable cup – it kept reasonably well till lunchtime. I was just asked by my doctor if the low carb thing was really sustainable. Well it’s been 2 years and it’s been doable even in a busy schedule. I think I can chug along like this for a long while more!


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