For a big slurpy, sticky bowl of goodness, this Chinese Oxtail noodle soup is everything you need and more. A super tasty bone broth delivers a meaty, life-giving hit of flavour and with the soft noodles and melty meat, it’s a dish that keeps on giving. Learn how amazingly simple it is to make at home too…
Chinese Oxtail Soup is one of the dishes I crave when I'm a little under the weather. By 'under the weather' this can mean genuinely sick or just 'meh', but can also, and most commonly can just mean 'wine tired'. If I've over indulged on the beers, wines and spirits the night before, a good, old fashioned Asian soup has all the restorative qualities my body is craving. I go for all kinds of noodle soup, usually a Pho or a life giving guzzle of Malaysian Prawn Laksa and of course this homemade Chinese oxtail recipe.
Ready in a few simple steps
My Chinese Oxtail Noodle Soup is really easy to put together. Ready in a few simple steps:
Roast the oxtails for 30 minutes (put them on a tray - easy!)
Put all the soup ingredients into the Instant Pot with the roasted oxtails and press the button for 2 hours (exhausted yet?!)
Strain the soup and pick the meat off the oxtails (hardly tasking, agree?)
Pour the broth over some cooked rice noodles (10 seconds to cook) and sprinkle over some spring onion (that's it!)
Instant Pot to the rescue
The best Chinese oxtail soup recipe calls for a quality broth. This normally comes in the form of a long-cooked stock made from animal bones. Think Japanese Ramen, Vietnamese Pho and Chinese chicken or beef bone broths. In an ideal world, I would have the foresight and cook panfuls of the stuff all the time, but in the real world we need a bit of help to make slow, faster!
The Instant Pot (or pressure cooker) is a triumph when it comes to creating stocks and broths - cutting the cooking time by some 66%!! So, in this case, a 6 hour broth takes only 2 hours. That's worth the wait right!? If you don't have an Instant pot, I give instructions for stove-top cooking too, you'll just have longer to wait - sorry!
Oxtails - a misunderstood ingredient
So, to the soup! I just love Oxtails - they're a GREAT ingredient in stocks and stews - you can extract an amazing amount of flavour from these often ignored cut of beef. There's a lot of cartilage and some bone, and also a little meat - so it's the best of all worlds for drawing out all the flavour of beef - a sweet, sticky and goodness filled elixir.
This traditional Chinese oxtail soup recipe makes good use of oxtails to create a rich, sticky, warming broth, a perfect partner to the slippery rice noodles.
A simple list of ingredients
My Chinese Oxtail Noodle soup uses a simple roll-call of ingredients. Each brings an essential component to compliment the rich, meaty oxtails and when cooked no one ingredient dominates - the broth is a harmonious, fragrant amalgamation of everything. The use of Sichuan peppercorns brings a sweet, peppery note to the broth, with a slight nod to its unique numbing quality - it's magical! And the dark soy enhances the wonderful rich dark broth while bringing a rounded saltiness.
Arranging the final oxtail soup
Once you've cooked the broth, it's just a case of arranging everything in a bowl. Separate the meat from the fat and bones and then cook some fresh or dried rice noodles. Then you just bring them all together with a sprinkling of spring onion. Now all you need to do is hunker down and get slurping - remember the Asian rule, louder you slurp the more appreciation you're showing to the chef!
Substitutes and other suggestions
If you can't get hold of oxtails, fear not - just use beef bones - you won't get the meat at the end, but that's not a massive deal - this soup is filling without. If you like, when the broth is finished and strained, you can add a few chunks of potato or Daikon radish or turnip to the broth and cook until soft. This is a welcome addition for your 5-a-day. If you can't get rice noodles, use flour or egg noodles. You can also ABSOLUTELY use Italian flour noodles, i.e. spaghetti!
Place the oxtails on a roasting tray and roast for 30 minutes, turning once after 15 minutes.
For Instant Pot
Place the oxtails into the Instant Pot along with all the other broth ingredients. Pour over 8 cups of water. Attach the lid, set to high pressure cook for 2 hours.
After 2 hours, release the pressure and carefully remove the meat from the pan to cool.
For stove top
Place the oxtails into a large casserole pan with all the other broth ingredients. Pour over 8 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to very low, so that the liquid is barely simmering. Simmer very gently, covered, for 6 hours.
Carefully remove the meat from the pan and leave it to cool.
Finishing the soup
Using a fine mesh sieve, strain the soup and discard the solids. If you have a lot of fat on top, you can skim this off with a spoon or use a gravy separator (these are marvellous). Keep the broth warm on a low heat.
Once the meat has cooled enough to handle, pick apart the meat from the fat, bone and cartilage. Keep the meat, discard everything else. Set aside.
Cook your noodles to the packet instructions. Once cooked, drain and place a small mound in the centre of an Asian soup bowl or deep soup bowl then pop on top a little meat.
Add 4-5 ladles of piping hot broth per person and then sprinkle over some spring onion. That's it! Enjoy!