Sunday, November 23, 2008

Bak Kut Teh / Pork Ribs Soup 肉骨茶

When I stayed in Malaysia, one of my local favourite Chinese food is "Bak Kut Teh" (肉骨茶). "Bak Kut Teh" literally means "meat bone tea" or "pork ribs tea". Interestingly you won't be able to find any tea in this dish. It is a type of pork ribs soup which can be complemented with Chinese tea. It comes with two types of soup base. The herbal soup with dark soy sauce type is well fragrant and more popular in Malaysia. Klang in Malaysia is famous for this type of herbal soup base. In Singapore, the peppery clear soup base is more popular. Ng Ah Sio Pork Ribs Soup Eating House (黄亚细肉骨茶餐室) at Rangoon Road is pretty famous for its strong peppery clear soup.

Personally, I prefer the herbal soup base with dark soy sauce type. It has unique aroma of herbs and spices. The meat of the pork ribs is tender and soft after simmer for long time. This dish can be served with white rice, fried dough fritter (you tiao), pork liver soup, braised bean curd skin and salted vegetable. It is a hearty warm comfort food for me. I used to visit Soon Huat Bak Kut Teh (顺发肉骨茶) and 木清肉骨茶 in Johor Bahru (southern Malaysia) which serve Bak Kut Teh with tasty herbal soup.


  • 1 lb (500 gm) Pork ribs
  • 5 cloves of garlic (with skin)
  • 3 dried codonopsis pilosula root / “Dang Shen” (党参)
  • 5 slices Chinese angelica root /"Dong Quai" (当归)
  • 0.6 oz (20gm) polygonatum odoratum / "Yu Zhu" (玉竹)
  • 4 slices ligusticum rhizone / "Chuan Xiong" (川芎)

  • salt
  • light soy sauce
  • dark soy sauce
  • minced garlic
  • dark soy sauce

  1. Place pork ribs into a pot with boiling water. Drain after 1 minute and discard the water.
  2. Rinse the herbs and drain. Fill the pot with water enough to cover the pork ribs. Bring it to a boil and add all ingredients into the pot.
  3. Cover and slow cook over medium low heat for at least 1 hour or until meat is tender.
  4. Add the seasonings according to taste. Ready to serve with white rice.
Note: If you like flavor of spices, you may add 1 cinnamon stick and 4 to 5 star anise during the cooking.

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