Image credit: Noobcook
At the mention of Bak Kut Teh; Malaysians can already imagine the taste of this dish and the warmth that it brings. If you’ve ever been to Klang, you would know that locals adore the famous Bak Kut Teh found here too! So, why is this dish so popular?
Bak Kut Teh, which translates from the Hokkien dialect as ‘meat bone tea’, is a pork rib dish cooked in a complex of herbs and spices. The flavourful broth of the Bak Kut Teh along with strong herbal taste; will surely leave you energized and wanting for more.
This dish is popularly served in Malaysia and Singapore where there is a predominant of Hokkien and Teochew community. While Bak Kut Teh is typically eaten for breakfast, locals love having this dish for lunch or even dinner too.
Origin of Bak Kut Teh
Although the origin of Bak Kut Teh is unclear, this dish is believed to have been brought over from Fujian, China. It was suggested that this dish was popular among early Chinese immigrants, many of whom had also come from Fujian.
There are other claims about this dish, such as its place of origin is in Klang; or that it was invented and brought over by a local Chinese physician from Fujian, China in the 1940s.
With all that was said, it is clear that the Bak Kut Teh is heavily influenced by the Chinese community with its use of Chinese herbs in a flavourful pork rib broth.
Bak Kut Teh Recipe
There is a variety of Bak Kut Teh cooking styles that are closely influenced by different Chinese ethnic groups. For this recipe, we will be making the Hokkien version of Bak Kut Teh, which is popular in Klang, Malaysia. If you are planning to make Bak Kut Teh from scratch, then you may have to visit some Chinese medicinal halls or Asian grocers to purchase the herbs needed for the broth (pre-packed herbs are also available).
We will also provide the Chinese names of some herbs in the recipe just in case you plan to buy them and need some reference for the shop owners.
15 g of foxglove root (熟地黄, shu di huang)
5 g dried tangerine peels
10 g Chinese angelica root (当归, dang gui)
5 g Szechuan lovage (川芎, chuan xiong)
10 g liquorice root (甘草, gan chao)
15 g Solomon’s seal (玉竹, yu zhu)
5 black dates (正南枣, zheng nan zao)
5 red dates (红枣, hong zao)
5 g goji berries (枸杞子, gou qi zi)
5 g Codonopsis Pilosula (党参, dang shen)
5 g star anise
15 g cinnamon stick
1 tsp Sichuan pepper
1 tsp fennel seeds
½ tbsp of cloves
1 garlic head
800 g of pork
5 g of ginger
500 ml of water
1 ½ tbsp of soy sauce
1 ½ tbsp of oyster sauce
½ tbsp of dark soy sauce
½ tbsp of salt
½ tsp of white pepper
4 litres of water
5 tofu puffs
15 g of enoki mushroom
3 g of iceberg lettuce
5 fried bean curd skin
- Place all the herbs and aromatics (foxglove root, dried tangerine peels, Chinese angelica root, Szechuan lovage, liquorice root, Solomon’s seal, black dates, red dates, goji berries, Codonopsis Pilosula, star anise, cinnamon stick, Sichuan tpepper, fennel seeds, and cloves) into a spice bag, tea bag or a kitchen paper.
- Secure the bag with a string so that the herbs will not fall out during the cooking process.
- Take a whole garlic head and remove the papery skin off the outer layer of the garlic bulb. Then, toast the garlic in a dry pan until it is brown.
- Next, take a pot and pour in 500 ml of water. Then, when it boils, add ginger into the water.
- After that, put the pork into the water. Once the water begins to boil again, remove the pork. Discard the ginger and water next.
- Pour 4 litres of water into a pot. Then, add pork, herbs and the aromatics. Bring to a boil. When it boils, lower the heat to the minimum and let the broth simmer tfor 30 minutes. Then, stir in the soy sauce, dark soy sauce, oyster sauce, salt and pepper. Allow it to simmer for 2 to 4 hours.
- After that, remove the herbs and aromatics bag. Then, blanch the tofu puffs and fried tofu skin in hot water to remove excess oil before adding them into the broth.
- Then, add some vegetables and enoki mushrooms into the broth.
- Your homemade Bak Kut Teh is ready to serve.
- In this recipe, we recommend you to boil the Bak Kut Teh for four hours for better taste. However, if you’re running out of time, two hours would be sufficient as well. If you want to have tender meat in your Bak Kut Teh, it is important to keep a low heat while stewing the dish. With that, allow it to simmer for a few hours so that the meat is tender and falls off the bone easily. For a halal version of Bak Kut Teh, you may use chicken as an alternative to pork.
Ways to Enjoy Bak Kut Teh
Bak Kut Teh is best enjoyed with a side of fried dough called you tiao. Locals love dipping the fried dough into the broth before consumption. Besides that, you can also pair this dish with a few condiments for an extra kick of flavours such as soy sauce, dark soy sauce, minced garlic and chopped chilli padi. Tea of various kinds can also be served alongside the Bak Kut Teh as it was believed to be able to dilute or dissolve the amount of fat consumed in this pork-based dish.
For more popular Malaysian delights, check out Lokataste Recipe!