Sup Buntut is the Indonesian version of the Oxtail soup. When I think of Sup Buntut, what comes to mind would be the the various warongs on the side streets of Bandung. I had patronised these warongs to eat Sup Buntut. I like to eat hot soupy dishes when I travel to Indonesia and Sup Buntut suits me just fine. They are just delicious … as hot soups should really be.
When I was growing up, I never knew that people make soups out of oxtail. I guess that they get thrown out … or something. The soups that we had at home … those days were made from tetelan, the cheaper cut of beef – which had a lot more fat than lean meat. When I ate them, I would throw away the fat. After discarding the fat, I guess what was left was a few strands of lean meat. Still … it was soup.
Our mother was good at garnishing the soups. With the addition of potatoes, carrots and fried onions as well as celery, the soup became as tantalising as any expensive dish. Hmm … I think our mother was certainly adept at making any dish attractive to our eyes! When we had so little, the less was made to look more.
Sup Buntut became a part of my food vocabulary when the earlier Indonesian restaurants came to town. They were located at shopping malls and hotels. The price simply commensurate – they went up … several notches higher I think. But we still had to wait for seats whenever we frequented the restaurants.
Today, most of the times I make my own Sup Buntut. The pressure cooker has been a boon – reducing cooking time. A kilogram of oxtail costs about 15 Sing dollars at the local market. With the stock easily made, making Sup Buntut didn’t become too much of a hassle. As Martin Yan says “When you have good stock, you can make good soup.”
The other ingredients to add to the stock would be potatoes, carrots and onions. With the right amount of ground garlic and ginger as well as spices such as pepper and nutmeg your soup would taste just fine. If you go along with Beethoven’s dictum that “Only the pure in heart can make good soup” then there is really nothing that could hold you back from making good soup – Sup Buntut that is!
Go ahead … Make your own Sup Buntut. Enhance them with your own garnishing. The “ooomph” is in the details. Heh … heh …