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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Bak Kut Teh ("Pork Bone Tea" Soup) Recipe | Easy Asian Cooking

Bak Kut Teh (Pork Bone Tea Soup) 肉骨茶
Pronounced as Bak Kut Teh in Hokkien dialect, the phrase literally translates as "Pork Bone Tea" (肉骨茶). This nourishing meat soup which is simmered in a complex broth of herbs and spices was brought over to South East Asia from Fujian, China and has successfully paved its ways into many Malaysian and Singaporen kitchens. Today, the process of preparing Bak Kut Teh has been simplified with the easily available and commercially pre-packed package which incorporates all the grinded herbs and spices into a small bag. Touting as a tonic herbal soup to boost health, this small bag of Bak Kut Teh is the epitome of health and wholesomeness. If you take a whirl through Malaysian cities, you will soon discover that you can actually go on gastronomical adventures on such eye-stretching cheap hawker's food like Bak Kut Teh at a small prize of, as low as RM20 per claypot.

Packed with a bounty of herbs and a wallop of heat, Bak Kut Teh exudes its natural flavors from herbs and spices as well as earthy flavors from pork bones. An aromatic blast hits when the lid is lifted, sending our salivary glands into overdrive. The meat is almost falling off the bones and it doesn't take much coaxing for my daughter to chew. This is one of the soup that we indulge in from time to time as it's easy to prepare and good to the last drop. Chinese crullers (dough fritters or 油条) provides a good vessel to soak up all the Bak Kut Teh goodness whilst soy-based bird's eye chillies and minced garlic dipping sauce provides blow-your-head-off sensation!

This is the simple how-to recipe for Bak Kut Teh (Pork Bone Tea Soup). 肉骨茶汤食谱

Yew Chian Haw pre-packed Bak Kut Teh herbs and spices
Yew Chian Haw pre-packed Bak Kut Teh herbs and spices

Ingredients :

1 package of Bak Kut Teh herbal pre-mixes (I use "Yew Chian Haw" brand pre-packed herbs and spices 游建好肉骨茶汤料, photo as above)
400g of pork ribs, chopped into large chucks and rinsed
2 garlic bulbs
5 dried Shitake mushrooms, soaked and cut into halves
100g of enoki mushroom, stems discarded and soak
A handful of tofu puffs
2000ml water

2 tablespoons of soy sauce
1 teaspoon of dark soy sauce
Dash of white pepper powder, to taste
Salt to taste

Dipping sauce or condiment :
5 bird’s eyes chillies, chopped
2 tbsp soy sauce
4 pips of garlic, minced
dark soy sauce (optional)

Method :

1. Soak dried shitake mushrooms in a bowl of water until it's pliable. After being reconstituted, slice each piece into half.

2. In a stockpot filled with water, parboil or blanch the spare ribs until scum floats to the surface. Discard the froth, remove and rinse spareribs under cold running water and drain.

3. In a clay pot, pour in 2000ml of water and wait until it reaches rolling boil. Add in the blanched spare ribs, garlic bulb, Bak Kut Teh herbal pre-mixes, black dates and shitake mushrooms. Cover the lid and turn to low flame and simmer for 1-2 hours until the pork ribs become tender and all the herbal essence have been incorporated well into the soup. Skim off scum from the surface every now and then.

4. Add in enoki mushroom and tofu puffs at the last 10 minutes of simmering. Season with 1 teaspoon of dark soy sauce, adequate salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot with steamed rice and Chinese crullers (dough fritters or 油条).  It's at its best taken together with dipping sauce comprises of chopped bird's eye chilli, minced garlic in a full-bodied condiment of light soy sauce (sometimes with some dark soy sauce added in).

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