Recipe: Oxtail Curry

A Lim family recipe. Requested every single time we go back to Singapore (that and Sweet & Sour Pork).

Oxtail Curry

Serves 4


1 lb oxtail

1 tbsp salt


4 red chillies, deseeded 

4 dried red chillies

8 shallots*

3 cloves garlic

2 candlenuts 


4 tbsp of vegetable oil [optional]

3 Yukon potatoes, cut into 1″ cubes

2 tomatoes, cut into 1″ cubes


4 tsp of vegetable oil

3 heaped tbsp curry powder (not Indian), mixed with a few tbsps of water to form a watery paste

1 stalk lemongrass, stripped, cut into 2″ pieces and bruised**

2 tsp sugar

1.5 tsp salt

4 cups diluted whole milk (1:1)



A. In a pot, cover the oxtail with salted water. Bring to a boil and discard the “dirty” water. This cleans the oxtail and gets rid of any scum. Set aside.

B. While the oxtail water is coming to a boil, grind the ingredients in a food processor until it forms a smooth paste. This is your curry paste (rempah).

C. [optional step] Heat 4 tsp of vegetable oil in a large wok – your traditional 5 quart Dutch oven will NOT cut this! Fry the potatoes until brown at the edges. Remove and set aside with tomatoes.

D. In the same large wok, heat 4 tsp of vegetable oil. Lower the fire and fry the curry paste rempah (B), curry powder mixture and lemongrass until fragrant and glistening with oil. Add in the salt and sugar. Add the oxtail (A) and stir-fry until thoroughly coated with the curry paste. Add diluted milk slowly along the sides of the wok. Bring to a boil and simmer for at least 3 hours (or the whole day), partially covered. 1 hour before the oxtail is done, add the [fried] potatoes and tomatoes (C). Taste and season with more salt if necessary.

Served here with steamed jasmine rice and sliced cucumbers.

*This refers to Singapore-size shallots. In the USA, shallots tend to be bigger, so use around half the amount i.e. 4 shallots.

**I use the handle butt of my chef’s knife


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