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  • Writer's pictureNMK

Spicy Beef Ribs/Bone Soup

Updated: May 31, 2021

This dish is an all-time favourite of my father and countless other South East Asians. It's a dish that's best served hot with rice, bread, or by itself. If done right, the juicy meat will be very tender and simply slide right off the bone. The bones will will also provide an extra richness to the otherwise clear soup. It's also full of spices that gives the dish a complex and unmistakably South East Asian flavour.

This recipe passed to me from my mother, is relatively easy to follow requiring only a few steps and you don't have to scour the entire gastronomic world to find the ingredients. A word of caution, eventhough the preparation time is relatively short, this dish in general calls for a long cooking time - about 3 to 4 hours. So make sure you plan and prepare this dish ahead of time. However, once the tender meat melts away in your mouth, all that waiting time melts away with it and makes it all worth it. The long cooking time is required due to the meat in the rib part of the beef is a particularly tough meat. Letting the meat cook for a long time tenderizes it, giving it the melt in your mouth texture.

Another word of caution, this recipe is quite spicy in the heat department. You may reduce the amount of dried chilies in this recipe to get a milder soup or remove the dried chilies altogether if you can't tolerate any heat.


Ingredients (Serves 8 people comfortably)

Beef marinade:

1 1/2 tbsp coriander seeds

1 tbsp cumin

1 tbsp fennel seeds

7 dried chilies

2 inches cinnamon bark/sticks

5 cardamoms

5 cloves

1 star anise

1/2 nutmeg

10 shallots

6 cloves of garlic

1 inch. ginger


1 to 1 1/2 kg beef ribs/bones

2 inch. cinnamon bark/sticks

3 cardamoms

3 cloves

1/2 star anise

5 shallots - thinly sliced

3 cloves of garlic - finely grated

1/2 inch. ginger - finely grated

1 tbsp tamarind paste


Salt to taste



5 shallots - thinly sliced

3 cloves of garlic - finely grated

1/2 inch. ginger - finely grated

Spring onions - sliced

Flat leaf parsley


A. Beef marinade

1. Toast or dry roast the coriander seeds, cumin, fennel seeds, dried chilies, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves,star anise, and nutmeg in a hot dry pan until fragrant but not burnt.

2. Grind/dry blend the toasted spices until fine.

3. Next, blend the shallots, garlic, and ginger with a little bit of water, until fine as well.

4. After that, add all the blended ingredients to the beef, coating it and set aside to marinate for at least 30 minutes.

B. Cooking

1. In a large pot, saute the cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, star anise, shallots, garlic and ginger until golden and fragrant.

2. Then, add in the marinated bones and let it simmer for a few minutes to get the moisture out of the beef and give it an extra dimension of flavour.

3. Add in about 2.5 litres of water or enough to submerge the beef and a bit over.

4. Add in the tamarind paste and stir to dissolve.

5. Let it boil, and add salt to taste.

6. Cook for 3 to 4 hours or until the beef becomes tender.

C. Garnish

1. In a pan on medium heat, heat oil and fry the shallots, garlic and ginger until golden and crispy.

2. Drain and set aside to cool.

3. When serving, sprinkle all the garnishes on top including the spring onions and flat leaf parsley.

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