Bak Kut Teh

Bak Kut Teh –  Chinese Herbal Soup


I had this friend who used to rave about Bak Kut Teh whenever we met her.  People we met would ask us whether we had tasted this and we were quite perplexed at the excitement and eagerness involved.  Their eyes would light up, their noses twitch and we were longing to try this long awaited dish.  At long last, a friend invited us to try it out at a place well known for it.   So we tried it and tested it and enjoyed it and here is the recipe too.

Bak-kut-teh (also spelt bah-kut-teh;  is a Chinese soup popularly served in Malaysia and Singapore, where there is a predominant Hoklo and Teochew community, and also in neighbouring areas like the Riau Islands and Southern Thailand.
The name literally translates as “meat bone tea”, and at its simplest, consists of meaty pork ribs simmered in a complex broth of herbs and spices (including star anise, cinnamon, cloves, dang gui, fennel seeds and garlic) for hours. Despite its name, there is in fact no tea in the dish itself; the name refers to a strong oolong Chinese tea which is usually served alongside the soup in the belief that it dilutes or dissolves the copious amount of fat consumed in this pork-laden dish. Source:  Wikipedia
NB:  I made it with chicken and it’s a very aromatic, lip smacking dish.
The Recipe:
500 gms chicken on the bone, chopped into small pieces; 1/2 teaspoon pepper powder; salt to taste;3 tbsp olive oil I used oil; 2 cloves  garlic, crushed;1 star anise (star spice);1 piece cinnamon;1 teaspoon black peppercorns;1 teaspoon szechuan peppercorns (or ½ tsp. white pepper and ½ tsp. crushed red
chillies);1 chicken stock cube; 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce; 1.5 litres boiling water; light soy to taste; any vegetable of your choice- optional.  I used broccoli.Marinate meat in pepper and salt for half an hour. Heat pan until very hot.  Add two tablespoons of oil and fry meat until well-browned. Remove and keep covered in a dish.  In a new pan heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil.  Add the garlic and  stir-fry for half a minute, then add the fried meat and everything else except the light soy.  (Can use the cooker).   Boil rapidly for ten minutes, then reduce the heat and simmer for two hours until the meat is falling apart and very tender. Remove excess oil from surface before serving, and add light soy to taste.
For a quicker version, use the cooker and pressure cook for 10 minutes so that the meat falls apart. Serve piping hot with white rice or have it as it is.