Oxtail Borscht Soup Hong Kong Style

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Borscht Soup Hong Kong Style Recipe | JustOneCookbook.com

Yesterday was my husband’s birthday.  Since our birthdays are just one week apart, we used to go to a nice restaurant in San Francisco to celebrate our birthdays together.  After our children were born, we started a new tradition: he prepares my birthday dinner, and a week later I prepare his birthday dinner and we celebrate together with our children.  This year my husband cooked Thomas Keller’s Pork Tenderloin, and I cooked his favorite soup, Borscht Soup Hong Kong Style, as per his request.

Borscht Soup Hong Kong Style II

You might wonder and ask me what the “Hong Kong Style” means.  According to my husband, this is Chinese style (precisely Hong Kong style cafe’s) Borscht soup.  The original Ukrainian Borscht soup uses beetroot as a main ingredient while tomato is the main ingredient for the Hong Kong style.

This soup is my husband’s favorite because his mom (who’s good at cooking) used to make it.  Besides his mom’s version, it also reminded him of the late night Hong Kong Cafe meals during college since the soup was served complementary with most meals.  As soon as I became his wife, he asked me if I can make Borscht soup.  He was asking me who grew up drinking mostly miso soup (we have many variations of miso soup but still they all include miso)!  Well I had no idea how to make it and I kept ignoring his wishes for the past few years.

My husband probably got fed up with me ignoring his request so one day he came to me with a recipe in one hand and asked me to make it.  I thought I should give it a try and I made the soup.  I wasn’t much of a fan of oxtail before this soup but I added because his mom always included oxtail.  Oh boy, I’m so glad I did because it adds wonderful flavor!  The fatty goodness from the oxtail blends in the soup and provides some yummy grease in a predominately vegetable soup.

So that’s the story of my husband’s favorite soup.  One time we invited my brother-in-law for having this soup and he really loved it as well.  I was happy I could re-create their mom’s favorite soup from their childhood memory.  I hope you enjoy this soup because I also fell in love with this soup and so did my children.  It’s a family favorite now.  Have a great week!

Borscht Soup Hong Kong Style III

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Borscht Soup Hong Kong Style
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: Serves 6
  • 1.2 lb. (4-5 pieces) oxtails, pat dried
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1.2 lb. stew beef, pat dried
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, cut into slices
  • 7 celery stalks, chopped into small pieces
  • 2-3 carrots, peeled and cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 4 tomatoes, cut into wedges
  • ¼ (3 cups) large cabbage, chopped
  • 8 cups (2 L) beef broth
  • 1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
  • 2 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes
Seasonings A
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 Tbsp. dried basil
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • Freshly ground black pepper
Seasonings B
  • 3 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp. salt
  1. In a medium saucepan, bring water to a boil and add the oxtail. When the water boils again, lower the heat and continue cooking until you reached Step 5 (it'll take at least about 1 hour).
  2. In a cast iron skillet (or frying pan), heat oil over high heat and sear the surface of the stew beef. This will enhance the savory flavor. Set aside.
  3. In a large heavy-bottom pot (you will need a 6 ¾ to 8 quart pot), heat oil on medium heat and sauté onion and celery until they are soft.
  4. Add the stew beef, carrot, cabbage, tomatoes, beef broth, and tomato paste and bring it to a boil.
  5. Now drain water from the pot that oxtails are in it, and rinse the oxtails under cold water.
  6. Once the soup is boiling, add the oxtails. Once it boils, lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. During this time, skim off the scum and fat on the soup’s surface. This step can be tedious but it’s the key for clean taste when you drink the soup.
  7. Add Seasonings A and reduce heat to medium low. Cover and simmer for at least 3-4 hours, or until meat comes off from oxtail bones and becomes tender (and I usually cook extra 2 hrs on low heat).
  8. Add potatoes and cook for 15 minutes or until tender.
  9. Stir in Seasonings B and mix well. Ladle the soup to individual bowls.
Adapted from lululu at home.
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  1. This looks like a very nice soup! I bet the ox tail does provide that good fattyness to an otherwise healthy soup. My husband loves ox tails, but I only have a few recipes for using them. I’m sure he would love this one too because he also really likes cabage. I really liked your story of the soup. One of my husband’s favorite meals that I make is also a soup like his mom used to make. It’s nice to be able to recreate a childhood favorite. Happy birthday to your husband!

  2. I had to look up borscht, because I’d always believed it was exclusively beetroot, but apparently it can still be a borscht without beetroot – heh, learn a new thing every day! I love soups like this – it’s the kind of thing which maybe you remember from your childhood or something and you just crave sometimes. I have unbelievable urges to eat the stew and dumplings my mother makes sometimes 😀

    I love the soup’s colours, and the ingredients naturally! It reminds me of a non-spicy version of a chorba style soup I made a while back (I think chorba actually just means “soup”, but outside of Arabic-speaking countries the word Chorba tends to refer to specific types of soup!). I love that you used celery – way too few people use this amazing stuff these days. All hail the mighty celery, I say! :)

  3. What a delicious soup, Nami! I’m with Jill…I had to double check the ingredients to make sure there were no beets. Love the birthday tradition you share with your husband…I’d rather mine just do the dishes 😉

  4. This is one of the most incredible Asian-European fusion dishes I have ever seen. Hong Kong and Ukraine??? I would have never thought about it, but since Chen loves it, I’m sure it tastes great. I have tried once cooking with oxtail but it was a total disaster (I don’t remember what went wrong). This soup looks so appealing I’m tempted to try oxtail once more. You have a lovely culinary birthday tradition.

  5. I hope the hubby’s celebration was fun! You did a really good job with his favorite meal. My mom used to make oxtail soup all the time when I was little. I’ve made it only a couple of times. Not that I don’t love it, my kids wouldn’t touch it with a ten foot pole! Around here oxtails are hard to find and when you do find them they are a bit pricey. Your pictures and recipe have made me want some and I think I’ll be making it soon. And where did you find that cute little wooden spoon?

    • I was so happy when I saw oxtail in Costco! It was 2 lb package but it was totally worth it. :-) Wooden spoon is from Japanese $1 store called Daiso in San Francisco. :-)

  6. borchst soup? it doesn’t sound asian hahah but adding the hongkong style makes it so. i can’t blame your hubs for making this soup as his favorite after all these years. it looks filling, comforting and it’s so sweet for you to recreate for his birthday. memories like this stays… and makes marriages sweeter… hihihi.
    give my birthday wishes to your hubs nami… have a great monday!

  7. Happy belated birthday to you hubby! I am so glad he got you to come around and make this dish. Now you have a great dish and a wonderful tradition. I have never had oxtails, but this post does inspire. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Looks like a wonderful birthday dinner for Shen! I love that he had the recipes in hand while asking you to make his all time favorite soup for the first time! I also love that you make each other a nice meal for birthday celebrations!

    This soup looks similar to a tomato based beef soup my Mom makes when the weather turns cold, though never with oxtail. In fact I don’t think I’ve ever tasted oxtail… Though from the way you described, it sounds wonderful! Oh BTW I thought Shen is from Taiwan? Did his family move from Hong Kong or were they there for school? I am asking because the cooking style is pretty different…

    • Yep Shen’s from Taiwan. He’s talking about his college days in Berkeley. I think he’s talking about this particular Hong Kong style restaurant(s) in Berkeley/Oakland area. Try adding oxtail it’s so good. I made one time without oxtail and it wasn’t the same depth of flavor. Costco even carries 2 lbs of oxtail (although it varies depends on regions).

  9. Eri

    Hello Nami, I love your version of Borshct, in fact it is very similar to an oxtail sort of soup that we make back in Greece… Although we serve it with large size macaroni.. You are right about the oxtail, it’s really delicious and I think that it’s coming back..
    Have a great week!

  10. Wow I can definitely see why it would be his favorite!! I love the sound of that borscht soup. So perfect for the season right now too. I really want to try this.

    Cute idea of cooking for each other. That Thomas Keller Pork Tenderloin sounds amazing too!! Happy Birthday to you and your husband!!!

  11. Hi Nami! Happy Belated birthday to you and your husband! He actually shares the same bday as my sister. :)

    It’s so cute that he finally had to come to you with a recipe in hand so you could make this for him. It’s like my long reluctance to make beans for my husband, LOL! I can tell that I’d love this soup, though. Ox tail imparts so much flavor to the broth. I am definitely bookmarking this to try. This is just right for the cooler weather we’re having now. Have a great week!

  12. OMG! What a beautiful, tasty and hearty soup. I adore your birthday dinner traditions, it means so much more when created from the heart. Happy belated birthday, dear Nami!

    I like your spin on this soup…I’ll have to look it up in my copy of the cookbook and try your version. :)

  13. Happy Birthday to both of you, Nami and Shen! 😀
    Interesting and a little funny story on how you started to learn making this delicious soup and I really love your birthday dinner traditions! I always envy those whose husbands can cook! lol 😛
    For me, we used to always dined out with either my parents or in-laws on our Bdays but now I’ll cook at home to cut costs initially then found that it actually feels so great and warmth to be able to have home cooked meals on our special days! 😉

    Hope you’re doing fine and have a great week ahead! :)

  14. To be very honest, I have never heard of Borscht soup before but it looks so so good! I have a real affinity to foods which are bright red in colour, they always look so appetizing somehow ;)! Thank you for the recipe, Nami. This is no Japanese dish, but I am very sure I will try this sooner or later :).

  15. oh, this is one of my favourite though I have not cook this; oxtail selling here is quite costly. Doesn’t it look sooooo delicious the way you have cooked it? The photo already says it all. It does look saliva drooling to me.

  16. Nami – this looks amazing! I’ve never used oxtails, but my foodie friend loves them – I guess it’s finally time! What a delicious soup and it was SO nice of you to learn how to make his favorite!

  17. ooh. That looks incredible, Nami! Haha, love that your husband just produced a recipe for you so that you can’t ignore his request. I LOVE oxtail soup…Korean version is simpler and cleaner, but my mom made me oxtail soup every winter! You should try it…it’s called komtang. :-)

  18. Happy Birthday to your husband! なみちゃんはすごい料理上手だね。ホント美味しそう!カレーみたいな家庭料理ですね。サンフランシスコでは会えなくてとっても残念でした。いつか機会があったらいいなと思ってます。初めてのFoodbuzz コンベンション、楽しい経験でした。そしてサンフランシスコ大好き!

  19. Happy Birthday to you and your husband both, Nami!! I hope that you have an absolutely wonderful week. I started to write that I had never tried borscht (cooking it or eating it!) but then as I looked at the recipe again I realized it looks very much like some of my husband’s favorite stews. :)

  20. Happy belated B-day to a lucky man:)) and what a good wife you are, learning and making his favorite soup…so cute! Looks fantastic, and sound so delicious with all the ingredients. I think that you did incredible job!
    Wishing you both awesome night!!!

  21. I was quite thrown off at first with the word borscht lol. But really interesting and glad you eventually made your husband happy. Oxtail does make a huge difference, like Jamaican Oxtail stew too. Happy belated birthday to you both.

  22. Wow! What a hearty soup Nami! No wonder your husband likes it so much! I would love to have a bowl of that for dinner tonight… if only the weather down here wasn’t so terribly hot! SIGH! Happy birthday to Shen once more!

  23. How lucky of your husband to have an oxtail borscht cooked for him! This is such a classic and popular soup in Hong Kong style cafes, and I remember enjoying these soups as a young girl there. But restaurants making short cuts don’t always use oxtails. So this must have been a real treat for your husband on his birthday! Thanks for sharing this recipe. 5 stars from me. =)

  24. A very Happy Birthday to your husband….
    I love your birthday tradition, so beautiful….
    Putting an effort and care in relation is far more bigger and beautiful than any gift right….
    This soup looks absolutely fantastic.

  25. Hey Nami! I am back :) I have been away, but with a very good reason:p
    Oh, Happy Birthday to your husband!! You are such a lovely wife, for making him this soup although you grew up only knowing miso soup :p
    Hehehe, proves that Nami can cook ANYTHING! 😀

  26. Happy Belated Birthday to your hubby..maybe i should also follow your practice by asking my husband to cook for me when my Birthday, but i dont need to cook for him when his Birthday as I cook for him everyday,hehehe..I know i will like this soup, must be very good serve with homemade French bread also.

  27. oxtail?! are u seriouse? O.o *shocked*
    I had heard the name borscht before, but thats all.
    can i use something else then oxtails?

    by the way! belated happy birthday Nami!!!
    My birthday is tomorrow. XD

  28. What a beautiful, hearty and delicious sounding soup! I love that you both cook one another dinner. That seems better to me than any fancy restaurant in all the world.

  29. Awww what a sweet wife you are to re-create your hubby’s favorite soup. My husband tells me in a sad tone all the time that his family recipe will be lost if his mom ever passes away because I can’t cook. I told him maybe Charlotte will grow up and learn how to cook them 😉 What can I say, I’m a bad wife! This looks amazing by the way – I should find a place that has this in Boston to try it out.

  30. Mika

    Where is a dinner invitation for us??? Hahaha, just kidding (well, actually we would love to get a dinner invitation from Cafe Nami ; )). I don’t think I’ve ever tasted this one before. It looks super yummy….

  31. Oh yes, I tried (complementary) borscht soup in Hong Kong before! They are almost like Hong Kong’s version of minestrone. And since the soup has tomatoes, I always enjoyed it. Your soup with oxtail can make a main-dish.

    Love using oxtail in soups! cos it is less meaty, more gelatinous. ;p ..I definitely enjoy the “soft bones” and gelatin in oxtail!

  32. Nami, I made oxtail soup a couple of days ago, but haven’t had a chance to download the pictures. I like the idea of adding beef. Looks delicious and perfect for a cold evening.
    Very comforting!
    Hope you are having a nice week :-)

  33. This soup looks perfect & packed with flavor. So glad that you shared this recipe coz I think I ll try this with lamb or mutton paired with potatoes. Loved the beautiful orange color of the soup.Thanks for sharing all these new recipes & memories with us :)
    Have a great week ahead!

  34. Nami, this soup is stunning! It looks absolutely delicious. I’ve actually never tried oxtail, but heard great things about it. :) Hope you’re having a wonderful day. x

  35. Looks very tasty and delicious! He must be very happy that you finally cooked it for him. I can’t remember if I’ve ever cooked oxtail…maybe once. I normally just use a stewed meat or a chunk of beef.

  36. I hope he had a very Happy Birthday! This soup would make me happy. We are supposed to get more cold weather and rain this weekend so I may give this recipe a try. The broth looks so rich and flavorful, and I imagine that oxtail gives it such authenticity. Yum! Thanks for sharing such a comforting recipe.

  37. Wow there are many dishes in Hong Kong too many I never saw this when I stayed there for 4 years or I just don’t know its name in Chinese that’s why I never did found out. Anyways if I knew this was existing before I would have ordered this in restaurants a lot of times as you photo look so delicious, I will definitely make one of this soon so this will be in my bookmark. Love the recipe.

  38. Ha! Now we know Shen is quite a persistent guy. It seems that his persistence has finally paid off now that you can confidently add this recipe to the family’s tradition. The soup looks really lovely especially for the coming cold months (rainy months for us). I am eyeing those breads that can be dipped with the flavorful soup. Yum yum! Happy birthday to Shen! Keep those birthday tradition going:)

  39. Yum, this is really more like a stew. When I’ve had borscht it’s made with beets. I love this and with oxtails, I know it’s delicious. Definitely printing this off. I could eat soup, stews and chili everyday during the winter months.

  40. Sora

    This recipe was amazing! I love HK style borscht, and I’ve tried making it before but this one is by far the best recipe. My brother liked it so much he had three huge bowls of it (and he usually goes for the non-borscht soups when we go to chinese cafes), so I think it was a huge success.

    The oxtail definitely makes it taste way better than the ones you get in cafes, too.

    • Hi Sora! Thank you so much for your feedback! Aww you made my day! I’m so happy to hear you liked it. Isn’t it amazing? I fell in love with this soup and I can have it every week (and kids eat all these veggies without any complaint!). I’m glad you and your brother enjoyed it. It’s pretty easy to make and it’s so delicious. One time I didn’t have oxtail so I made with stew beef, but for sure oxtail makes this soup 100x better! Thank you again for making this and letting me know! :-)

  41. Hi Nami, wow! I never realised there was a Hong Kong version of this Eastern European soup, which we (the Polish) claim as our own as do the Russians and everyone in between, including the Ukrainians. It sounds just as nice with tomatoes, although I couldn’t resist but to add a couple of beetroot to the mix. I’m biased though.

  42. Oh does that sound great. We are fans of borscht, my grandmother was from Russia. Definitely would love to try this version.
    Happy Belated Birthdays to the both of you.

  43. Stryder

    I made this today and it’s definitely gourmet. HK style restaurant borscht is fairly watered down when it comes to ingredients. I found 1.5 hours not enough time for the ox tail meat, it’s likely I’ll boil that for an hour by itself the next time I make it.

    I definitely recommend this recipe to everyone.

    • Hi Stryder! Thank you for your feedback! I’m glad you enjoyed it. Yes, if you have more time, it’s definitely better to cook for a little longer. I mentioned at least 1.5 hours in my recipe, but I usually cook more than that on low heat. Maybe I’ll try boiling oxtail longer next time too! Thank you for your input! :-)

  44. Eka Khmaladze

    Hi Nami! Just recently have been to Hong Kong and tried in one of their cafe’s Borsch! It was so funny for me, because I grew up eating Russian borsch cooked by my mother every week:) , which is of course completely different dish. But I started to look for information on origins of Hong Kong Borch and that is what I found out – whenRevolution happened in 1917 in Russia , lots of Russians emigrated to different parts of the world, including China! Namely in Beijing they started to open restaurants , offering food that was dear to them – borsch, beef stroganoff etc. As Time passed, receipes were adjusted to Asian tastes and transformed into what we see today in Hong Kong cafes! I found it facinating! Thanks for sharing this receipe.!

    • Hi Eka! Thank you so much for writing, and how interesting! This is my husband’s favorite soup back in college and I didn’t even now about Hong Kong style Borsch till he mentioned. This is my family’s favorite soup now and I make it once in a while. I think I fell in love with this soup already. :) Thank you for stopping by!

  45. babybluepowder

    Hi Nami,
    I tried to make this soup but did not have any beef stew or cabbage but it turned out amazing. It was really hearty. Much better than the versions I’ve had in some HK style cafes. Thank you for sharing. We definitely make this again.

    • Hi babybluepowder! Thanks so much for your feedback. I’m glad you enjoyed this recipe! I miss eating this dish – I should make it this week. :)