Saturday 28 January 2012


Chinese Herbal Bak Kut Teh (肉骨茶)

Serves 4

Preparation and Cooking Time: 30 - 45 minutes

- 1 kg pork ribs or whole chicken
- 3 whole cloves of garlic (with skin on)
- 8 dried Chinese mushrooms or fresh shitake mushrooms sliced
- 2 strips of dried bean curd skin (fu zhu 腐竹) (optional)
- 3 litres water
- 1 TBS dark soya sauce
- 4 TBS light soya sauce
- A few leaves of lettuce
- 1 – 2 stalks spring onions chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste

A handful of Chinese herbs (you can buy them ready mixed in Singapore) consisting of:
- Goji berries (杞子), gan cao, shu di, Garden Angelica (Dang gui 当归),Radix Codonopsis Pilosulae (dang shen 当参), Lovage Root (chuan gong 川芎), Solomon’s Seal Rhizome (yu zhu 玉竹)

Spice mix ground together and put in a bag (if not you can buy them ready mixed and grinded in Singapore):
- 1 TBS Cinnamon stick
- 1 TBS Cloves
- 1 TBS White Peppercorns
- 1 TBS Star Anises

Dipping sauce
- 2 TBS black soya sauce
- 1 chopped red chilli

1. Bring water to boil, add in Chinese herbs, spices and garlic and bring to boil again.

2. Add in meat, mushrooms and dried bean curd and simmer until low heat (no. 4 on my stove) for at least 20 minutes or longer (no. 2.5 on my stove) until the meat is cooked.

3. Add in dark soya sauce, light soya sauce and salt as desired and simmer for another 5 minutes. Discard spice bag.

4. In a serving bowl, add in lettuce, scoop up soup and sprinkle with spring onions.

5. Serve immediately with rice and dipping sauce on the side.

Additional Information:
I am having craving for Bak Kut Teh recently. I didn’t make this from scratch, but bought the herbs and spices all ready packed from Singapore. The word Bak Kut The is a Hokkien term meaning meat-bone-tea. This is a popular dish in southern China, Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia, each with their variant way of preparing. The Teochews in Singapore prepare it without the Chinese herbs. The above is a Hokkien Singapore version. According to Wikipedia, Bak Kut Teh was introduced to Malaya and Singapore by the Chinese coolies. This is usually eaten for breakfast in Singapore. In my sister’s family, they go for Bak Kut Teh on Sunday morning.
Traditionally this dish is made with pork and goes with rice and Chinese tea in the morning. (Yes, the Chinese do eat rice in the morning :-) ) However, today, people also eat it with noodles and use chicken instead of pork ribs. I ran out of pork ribs, and thus I made it with chicken instead today.


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