Monday, 16 November 2009

Bak Kut Teh

A good friend, Mel, called up and asked whether we could meet up for dinner before I left for Germany. So we decided to have dinner at my place with me cooking up a very simple dish. Bak Kut Teh! A favourite amongst Malaysians (a very Malaysian dish indeed), it was a good night to have it since the day was windy and cold.

Bak Kut Teh

Essentially, Bak Kut Teh means Meat boiled in Chinese Herbal Tea. The actual ingredients would have consisted of different chinese herbs resembling shards of wood, slices of roots and the like. But being in London means having the next best thing - Bak Kut Teh satchets. Available in various Oriental Stores in China Town, Central London, a packet of Bak Kut Teh would cost about GBP1.99. So what does the recipe call for?

1 packet               Bak Kut Teh (contains two satchets)
1kg                      meat - preferably pork ribs, if not, pork belly (chicken, lamb and beef is also fine)
1 packet               button mushrooms - it does not matter what kind. Canned mushrooms is also fine.
10 - 15 pieces      dried shiitake mushrooms - soaked in boiling water to soften (do not dispose of water)
1 whole bulb of    garlic
1 tbsp                  whole black pepper
2 tbsp                  oyster sauce
2 tbsp                  dark soy sauce
1 tbsp                  light soy sauce
3 bowls               water, or enough to cover 1/2 the soup pot


  1. Place pot with water on stove. Bring to boil.
  2. On a separate pot, boil water to pre-boil your meat. This is to get rid of the initial oil that the meat would release when boiled.
  3. When first post of water is boiling, fish out pre-boiled meat from second pot and place into first pot. Dispose of water in second pot.
  4. Next, add in the Bak Kut Teh satchets and mushrooms. Put in the water that was from the mushrooms as well.
  5. Next add in all sauces into pot as well as whole black pepper. Bring to boil.
  6. Once water is boiling, reduce heat and let it simmer. Let simmer for 1 hour.
  7. Test if soup is salty enough once flavours have entered meat. How do you know this? The meat would have changed colour after having to sit in the simmering soup for the last hour. Remove from stove and serve in bowls.
For the rice, you can add in smashed garlic and salt with the rice and cook as usual. If you wish to have more flavour, add in the water from the mushrooms here instead of adding it into the Bak Kut Teh. I personally like white rice with Bak Kut Teh.

For vegetables, there are varieties in which you can use. The normal would iceberg lettuce, mustard leaves (Choy Sum) or Kai Lan. I use the next best thing - Romaine Lettuce. After washing the leaves, I directly place them into the soup to be blanched instead of frying it up. It saves time and lessens the washing up process as well.

So now, you have a perfectly hearty meal for a rainy windy night in London. Mel and I enjoyed it. So will you.

Having a taste of home,
The Innovative Baker

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