Hawaiian-style Oxtail Soup

I lived in Hawaii for two years in the mid 1990’s. I still go visit every so often and I make sure to spend a day or two in Hawaii, midway on my trips back to the Philippines. While lau lau is by far my favorite Hawaiian food, I have also come to like oxtail soup prepared by my friends  in the islands. Each time I am in Honolulu, I never fail to drive, bike or walk to Kapahulu Avenue to visit Ono’s for their lau lau plate and Zippy’s for their oxtail soup.

Oxtail is not unique to Hawaiian cuisine. Italians simmer oxtails with pepperoncini and red wine.  Jamaicans cook oxtails with lima beans and jalapeno chiles.  And of course, oxtail is a main ingredient in the popular Filipino dish, kare-kare.


2 lbs oxtail (the fat trimmed for a healthier recipe)

2 pieces, star anise

1 strip orange zest (peel of orange fruit)

1 tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced

1/2 cup unsalted peanuts

1/4 tsp chili pepper crush

2-3 cups of mustard or similar greens, cut into bite-size pieces

Sea salt to taste

1/2 cup of fresh chopped cilantro

A bunch of green onions, cut into 1-inch slices (use both stem and leaves)


Boil the oxtail in a large pot half-filled with water, about 20-30 minutes

Rinse the oxtail and discard the water

Return the oxtail into the pot, making sure to cover all the oxtail pieces with fresh water by about an inch

Add salt to taste. Add star anise and ginger

Bring the mixture to a boil

Cover the pot and simmer for about an hour

Add in the peanuts

Simmer for another 2 hours or until the meat of the oxtail is at at point of separating from the bone Skim the fat off the soup

Add  peel, chili pepper flakes and greens and simmer for another 3-5 minutes

Serve hot and garnish with cilantro and green onions.

(Makes 3-5 servings)


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