Yogyakarta is the ancient city in the center of the island of Java, home to the infamous Borobudur, one of the greatest Buddhist monuments in the world. Our recent trip to Java would not have been complete without visiting the Unesco Heritage site, riding becaks (trishaws) through the streets of Yogya and eating one of the local favorite dishes, sop buntut, a traditional oxtail soup.
A meal in itself, sop buntut (literally translated as tail soup), is an incredible hearty broth seasoned with cloves and nutmeg, spices indigenous to Java. Oxtail is first boiled with a bit of ginger to remove any musky smell, then rinsed well and simmered for several hours with leeks, celery and spices. Once the meat is very tender, carrots, potatoes and tomatoes are added for color and texture. Making this rich broth takes a bit of time, but the results are well worth the wait.
Traditionally, sop buntut is served along with white rice accompanied by sambal (chili sauce), kecap manis (sweet soy sauce), lime wedges and empeng (shrimp chips). Garnish to one’s taste and either eat the oxtail over the rice and drink the broth separately or take spoonfuls of rice and dip into the soup….either way this one dish meal is amazing!
Sop Buntut – Javanese Oxtail Soup
Makes 6 servings
2 lbs oxtail, trimmed of excess fat
5 1/4 inch thick coins peeled fresh ginger
1 leek, whites only
3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
8 whole cloves
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 leek, whites only
4 stalks celery and leaves, sliced thin
2 carrots, peeled and diced
3 potatoes, peeled and diced
2 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup fried shallots
2 small limes, cut into wedges
1/4 cup prepared sambal
1/4 cup kecap manis (sweet soy sauce)
1 cup empeng (fried shrimp chips)
Rinse the oxtail and place in a large pot with the sliced ginger and enough water to
cover over high hear. Boil the oxtail for 10 minutes and then strain the meat, discarding
the water and the ginger.
Rinse the meat with cold water and refill the clean pot with 4 quarts of water. Return the
oxtail to the pot with half the leeks, garlic, nutmeg and cloves. Simmer the oxtail over
low heat for 2 hours. Remove the oxtail from the broth and place in a container to
refrigerate. Strain the broth and discard the leeks and garlic and refrigerate the broth
over night to allow the fat to congeal.
Next day, strain off all the fat from the broth and set aside. Heat a large pot over
medium. Once the pan is hot, add the oil and saute the remaining leeks, celery and
carrots for several minutes. Pour the broth over the vegetables and add the oxtail to the
soup and bring to a low boil over medium heat. Cook for 15 minutes and then add the
potatoes to the broth and simmer for another 20 minutes or until the potatoes are just
tender. Stir in the diced tomatoes and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Garnish the oxtail soup with fried shallots and serve the soup piping hot with a side of
rice, sambal, lime wedges and empeng.