Bak kut teh if directly translated means pork rib tea, this Chinese soup is made out of meaty pork ribs slowly simmered for long times in an array of herbs and spices such as star anise, cinnamon, cloves, fennel seeds, garlic, wolfberries, dried dates, dried chillies, dried squid and even ginseng. This dish is popular in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, China and Taiwan
Usually this dish is consumed with rice, a type of puff bread which I forgot the name, a chilli dipping sauce and don’t forget the Chinese tea as the Chinese believed that the hot tea dissolves the fat that you might had taken when you had this dish. Apparently my ex-Boss had told that to me when he introduced me this dish in Klang Valley in Malaysia. Also for those who do not know this dish is neither a dinner nor a lunch dish, usually it is served as breakfast or morning meal, yes you saw it right “Breakfast”, like other famous Malaysian dishes such as Nasi Lemak, and I thought fried rice for breakfast was odd.
Now for a bit of History, this dish was introduced to Malaysia and Singapore in the 19th century by the Chinese in a move to boost the nutrition of dishes served to labourers in port cities, the original recipe was a secret and have a lot of herbs and spices that helps boost the health of the said labourer. That secret recipe was later on passed to someone who went to Klang which started the commercialization of the dish. It became so famous that and the dish was copied and improvised by different vendors, also due to the popularity a lot of different cultures are claiming for the invention of such dish and the popular one are the Hokkiens and the Teochews.
I guess I can say I am lucky as I had tried this dish where it became popular, and in fact it was in the restaurant where the family of the original recipe came from, I cannot remember the name but I still can remember how good it was, so try it when you visit Malaysia and make sure try it only in Klang where it all started.
1 kg meaty pork ribs, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 whole garlic, skin on and slightly pounded
3 pcs cinnamon sticks
4 thin slices of ginseng
5 pcs star anise
1 tbsp black peppercorns
2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
6 pcs dried shitake mushrooms
1 large red onion, finely chopped
1. In a pot partially boil the pork ribs in enough water, once froth rises remove from pot and rinse the ribs in cold water.
2. Now in a pot add oil and sauté onions until it turns translucent, now add garlic sauté slightly.
3. Add the ribs, star anise, cinnamon, peppercorns, ginseng, shitake, soy sauce, honey, fish sauce according to your liking and enough water to cover the meat. Bring to a boil then simmer for 1 hr. or until meat is really tender.