Recipe: Oxtail Soup

by Heidi Hamamura of Taberu

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click to enlarge Heidi Hamamura.
Heidi Hamamura.

This is something that my dad made for us my whole life, before oxtails became so popular. Now everyone knows about them, and they are expensive. In our family, this is something that we make every year around this time. I’ve actually served it at one of my private dinners to a special client who requested it because he used to work at my dad’s restaurant about 15 years ago and always remembered it. I think everyone who has been close to me has had it and remembers it.

This soup is important to me because it reminds me of the one family tradition we have. It’s the soup that brings all of us together. It doesn’t even need to be a holiday or an event. It’s something we make once a year, or a few times a year. It just warms your soul. It’s the soup that makes the dinner table quiet because everyone is busy slurping it down.


2 packs of oxtails (6-8 pieces in each); pieces vary from large to small
1 large onion, cut julienne for soup and divide into two equal portions
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
1 large daikon, peeled and diced
10 garlic cloves, whole
3-4 tbsp of Japanese brand soy sauce, to taste
1-2 tbsp sesame oil (Kadoya brand preferred)
Wasabi microgreens, available from Bee Simple, if desired

Fill a large pot with cold water, add oxtails and bring it to a boil.

Boil it for about 10 minutes, then skim the top and throw away the scum.

Drain the pot, rinse the oxtails and wash the pot out. Add the oxtails back into that same pot with half the onions and cover with water.

Bring that to a boil for 20 minutes, then reduce the heat to a medium-low simmer.

After an hour, constantly skim the top and throw the scum out. Add the carrots, daikon and garlic.

Let it simmer for another four hours.

Add soy sauce and sesame oil for flavor.

I like to get a medley of Japanese mushrooms; sometimes I get five or more varieties, but that is just preference. The ones I usually get are shiitake, maitake, enoki, matsutake and shimeji. I get a pack of each, clean them, dice them and then get a pan super hot.

I take the other half of the julienne onion and sauté it, pretty much caramelizing it. Then I add the mushrooms, and I stir fry them with a little bit of salt and pepper. After that cooks, I put it to the side. I cook these mushrooms after I get the soup going.

When the soup is ready, place the sautéed medley of Japanese mushrooms and onions in a bowl, then place an oxtail right over it and pour the soup with the veggies over it. If available, top it with some wasabi microgreens. Then, indulge and enjoy.

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