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Bak Kut Teh - Chinese Herbal Broth with Pork Ribs 肉骨茶 -UPDATE

Wednesday, May 28, 2014 | Labels: , , , , , |

Bak kut teh or literally 'meat bone tea' is a very famous Chinese Malaysian dish and is a must-try for tourists and also a much-loved dish by the locals.  Bak kut teh is a Hokkien (Fujian) Chinese dish and is said to have been introduced by the Hokkien coolies from China to Malaysia (then Malaya) more than a century ago.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Chinese people's love of heavy meals for breakfasts, it may come as a surprise to you that bak kut teh is an extremely popular breakfast dish.  Bak kut teh is essentially pork ribs cooked in a rich, savoury and fragrant herbal broth - it can be as simple as just the ribs in the broth/ soup or made more balanced' with the addition of dried tofu, mushrooms and some vegetables of your choice.  The main dish with the ribs and soup are usually served with Chinese doughnuts (you tiao) and rice.

Bak Kut Teh - Chinese Herbal Broth with Pork Ribs 肉骨茶

For today, I am sharing a short-cut version of claypot bak kut teh as yes I cheated and cooked the dish with the help of a ready-made satchel of bak kut teh herbs.  Really, there is no shame in this as I just read that a lot of the stalls selling bak kut teh buy prepackaged herbs and then add their own touches resulting in the uniquely different flavours.  For today, I added some fried tofu packets, Chinese or nappa cabbage, shitake and enoki mushrooms.  If you like, you can add more wolfberries (goji berries) to deepen the herbal flavour or even add some black pepper for more heat.  I used the 'Claypot' brand of bak kut teh packets and these are available in a lot of places outside Malaysia, if not I think most brands should be fine but of course don't forget to add your own little finishing touches to make the dish uniquely yours.

Bak Kut Teh - Chinese Herbal Broth with Pork Ribs 肉骨茶

This recipe has been updated and is now part of my Yuen Chun Recipes, an ongoing project on this blog.
Note: You can also substitute chicken for pork if you like.

Serves 4
Serving suggestion: with steamed rice


1 packet Bak Kut Teh herbs (store-bought)
6-8 cups of water
500g of pork ribs
500g of pork belly meat (optional - you can replace this with all ribs)
1 whole garlic (rinse lightly, no need to remove skin)
8 fresh shitake mushrooms (or use the dried version according to your preferences)
1 small Chinese/ Nappa cabbage, sliced to 3 inch lengths (approximate)
1 bunch of enoki mushrooms
1 tablespoon of goji berries (optional)


1 tablespoon light soy sauce or to taste (Please do a taste test before adding the seasoning as different brands will have different levels of saltiness) - I used Yuen Chun's

Serve with:

3 cloves garlic, minced
3 bird's eye chilli peppers, sliced
soy sauce for dipping


Firstly, blanch the pork ribs and pork belly in hot water and once the surface turns whitish, remove and rinse.  Set aside.

Bring the water to a boil in a soup pot.  Add in the packet and garlic.  Bring to a boil.  Add in the pork ribs (not the pork belly yet). Turn heat to low and simmer for about 40 minutes.  Add in the shitake mushrooms, cabbage, goji berries (if using) and tofu packets.  Bring to a boil.  Remove the pork ribs from the pot and set aside.  Do a taste test and add soy sauce if needed. 

Add the pork belly slices into the broth.  Bring to a boil.  Once they are completely cooked, add the enoki mushrooms and the pork ribs from earlier.  Bring to a boil.  Remove from heat and serve immediately with rice and garlic/ bird's eye chili - soy dipping sauce.

Bak Kut Teh - Chinese Herbal Broth with Pork Ribs 肉骨茶


Smallkucing said...

I love BKT :)

[email protected] cookingdom said...

Our favorite..your BKT looks simply delicious and perfect even without the cakoi..

Cookinggallery said...

My mum LOVES bak kut teh...! I am not a fan actually, but looking at your pictures make me want to have a bowl of warm bak kut teh with rice - looks delicious...!!!

kelvinwu said...

I didn't know people eat this for breakfast! That's really heavy! 

Jeannie said...

Wow! Looks like the Klang bakuteh...with dark soup. Certain places have clear soup. There is even a dry version whereby the cook the meat again in a black sauce, dried chillies, preserved cuttlefish and okra with a bowl of soup on the side.

Jesica said...

Bah Kut Teh has got to be my favorite dish!! Although i love these with ribs more but this looks absolutely divine, jen!!

Amy Tong said...

The first time I tried this dish was in Taiwan many many years ago.  This is such a comfort dish and yours looks perfect.  This is totally wonderful for the cold weather.

Smoky Wok (Tastes of Home) said...

Thanks Amy! yup, this is really good for the colder months :)

Yi Reservation said...

Great pictures! Although bak kut teh has never been my favorite dishes from a Malaysian restaurant I crave for that herb broth once in a while. I'll try this out at home next time when I crave for this dish. Thanks for sharing!

billy.khor said...

that is my favourite too...

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