Sup Tulang is the Malaysian version of bone broths. It is a traditional recipe, a humble but nutritious broth eaten for generations as comfort food. In Malaysia, you will find Sup Tulang sold in road-side stalls as well as in chic cafes. Sup Tulang (pronounced soup too-lung) translated literally means bone soup. It is a clear broth made with bones, spices and simmered for hours. I cook Sup Tulang for my family often, a nourishing meal that is healthy, yummy and easy to make. Even as I’m writing this, there’s a big pot simmering on the stove. Even Mei and Min Min, the pickiest of eaters love it. In Malaysia, we eat it by it’s own, with noodles, rice cubes, bread or served with steamed rice.
The Body Ecology Diet (BED), Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS Diet), the Paleo Diet, The Weston A Price Foundation and Julie Matthews of Nourishing Hope all recognise the nutritional and healing properties of the traditional bone broths. A knowledge that has been passed down generation to generation by our mothers and grandmothers. If you have not introduced bone broths to your children yet, it’s time to start.
The benefits of bone broths;
- Is full of minerals.
- Fortifies the immune system.
- Enhances digestion.
- Nourishes all body parts related to collagen. This means joints, tendons, ligaments, skin, mucus membranes, and bone.
Unlike most Western-style bone broths, the Asian bone broths are infused with aromatic herbs and spices, adding a wonderful depth of flavour. Nearly every Asian country has it’s own generations-old versions of bone broths. The Malaysian Sup Tulang is a close relative to the Vietnamese Phở, Indonesian Soto Daging and the South Indian Sup Kambing (Mutton Soup). Other Asian cultures also have their own versions of the nourishing bone broths such as the Chinese Bak Kut Teh and the Thai Tom Juet Gra-Dook Mu. I travelled to the capital of Laos recently, which is Vientiane and ate Lao Pho (Laotian Beef Noodles), a slight variation of the Vietnamese Beef Phở, yumm…
The Sup Tulang is a very versatile recipe that works just as well for beef, lamb or chicken. You can also use oxtail if you prefer, Malaysians call this Sup Ekor whereas the Indonesians call theirs Sup Buntut. Some enterprising Malaysian chefs also did a version made with kangaroo tails due to the rising prices of the highly prized ox-tail (not that I’ve ever tried it)
I couldn’t find any good bones recently so I bought beef short ribs. I prefer more meat on the bones, however feel free to use any large, marrow-rich bones you can get, preferably organic if you can get it. I like to add more meat to the broth as well as some root vegetables to make this a one dish meal. If I can’t find meaty bones, I add several cubes of meat in.
I adapted the traditional recipe only slightly by adding vinegar, this helps to extract the minerals from the bones. The longer you simmer, the deeper the depth of flavour and the more tender the meat. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!
Sup Tulang Recipe
0.5kg (1 lbs) of meaty bones e.g. beef short ribs. Or a combination of bones and boneless meat if you prefer.
2 Tablespoons Oil to saute (approx.)
3 inch ginger, sliced
6 brown shallots, sliced (if you don’t have shallots, you can use 2-3 small red onions)
4 cloves garlic, sliced
Whole spices – 1 large cinnamon stick, 2 star anise, 5 cloves, 3 cardamoms
1-2 Tablespoons Sup Tulang Spice Mix (optional, see below)
2-3 litres/ quarts water
2 tablespoons vinegar (any kind, except balsamic)
Salt and pepper to taste
Onion, carrots, celery, potatoes (optional)
For garnishing- spring onions, flat parsley, fried crispy shallots (you can buy these at asian supermarkets)
Sup Tulang Spice Mix – you can buy the dry ground spices in most asian food stores. Mix 2 Tablespoon ground coriander, 1 Tablespoon ground cumin and 1 Tablespoon ground fennel. It keeps for months in an air-tight container.
If using Spice Mix, toss the meat in 1-2 Tablespoons of the Spice Mix until well coated, shake excess spices off.
Heat oil in pot until hot, sauté the whole spices, ginger, shallots and garlic until fragrant and golden. Remove from the pot and set aside for later. In the same pot, brown the coated meat on all sides (add more oil if necessary) Add the sautéed ingredients back into the pot and pour enough water to cover the meat. If you are using meatless bones, add it in now. Add vinegar. Bring to boil, then reduce to simmer on low heat for a few hours. The longer it simmers, the better the flavour. Though in a pinch, I’ve simmered it for only 1 hour and it was still lovely. Add more water when necessary. During the simmering process, I also like to add a little bit of onions, celery and carrots to add more depth and nutrients to the broth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. If you are adding vegetables to make it a 1 dish meal, do add the remaining carrots, celery, potatoes or any other hard or root vegetables 20 minutes before serving so as not to overcook the vegetables.
I usually serve it with steamed rice, a sprinkle of crispy fried shallots and garnished with spring onions and flat parsley. Because I can’t live without chilli, I also serve it with a small dish of ‘sambal kicap’ and lime wedges. Bon appétit!
~ Dragon Slayer