Teochew bak kut teh is a common dish sold in many local hawker centers as well as dedicated bak kut teh eateries, such as the locally renowned Song Fa Bak Kut Teh at New Bridge Road and the Old Tiong Bahru Bak Kut Teh located right opposite my block along Seng Poh Road. Teochew bak kut teh has a clear and very peppery broth, in contrast to the darker and more herbal version of the Hokkien style pork rib soup which is a typically more Malaysian way of preparing this dish too.
The misleading part of this dish is in its very own name – pork ribs (肉骨) & tea (茶). Foreigners might find it amusing to neither taste nor find tea leaves in their bowls of pork rib soup. What they might find instead is an accompanying teapot of Chinese Oolong tea, which functions well to enhance digestion and get rid of the greasiness from the oily broth.
Interestingly, it has been rather difficult trying to find authentically Teochew recipes of this dish online, compared to the Hokkien version, albeit it being easier to make in comparison to the latter. I decided to adapt from Makansutra’s take on this dish, making mine more peppery and less garlicky than his. I could not believe how simple it was to make this dish – you should try this at home too!
- Pork bones (optional): 500g
- Pork ribs: 1kg, sliced into individual ribs
- Garlic: 300g, lightly crushed with pestle and mortar
- White peppercorns: 50g, lightly crushed with pestle and mortar
- Salt: 2 tbsp
- Dried mushroom (optional): 10, soaked in water for 1 hr, drained
- Chilli padi: 2, chopped
- Superior dark soy sauce: 2 tbsp
- Scald pork bones and ribs quickly in a pot of boiling water. Remove and set aside.
- Drain pot of water. Refill with another and bring to a boil.
- Place garlic and peppercorns into a cheese cloth sachet. Place into pot.
- Add pork bones, ribs and salt. Leave to simmer for 1 hr.
- Add mushrooms. Simmer for another hr.
- Serve hot with rice, Chinese dough fritters (油条), chopped chilli padi with dark soy sauce and a pot of strong Chinese oolong tea.
- Scalding the pork ribs once with boiling water first before cooking them would remove any traces of blood and hence keep the broth clear.
- Placing all the ingredients into the cheese cloth sachet makes it easier to slurp the broth without having to remove the peppercorns and garlic one-by-one.
- Do try to get better quality pork ribs which are freshly chopped from the butchery in the supermarket or wet market, instead of the frozen or packed ones on the shelves. Those that I bought for this recipe were humongous (and really expensive) but it was worth all the money. The meat came off the bones very easily and was soft and tender to the bite.
- Commercial bowls of bak kut teh sold in restaurants and Chinese eateries do not usually have mushrooms in them. Instead, fried dough fritters would be served as an accompaniment for dipping into the soup.
- This recipe was kindly adapted from Makansutra’s Bak Kut Teh recipe on Youtube.
Peppery fiery rating:
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