Bak Kut Teh: Herbal Pork Rib Soup

Bak Kut Teh, a popular dish in Malaysia and Singapore, is a delightful herbal pork rib soup that perfectly balances the rich flavors of tender pork ribs with a soothing, aromatic broth. This comfort food is traditionally enjoyed with a side of rice, and its name translates to “meat bone tea,” reflecting the dish’s core ingredients. Bak Kut Teh is not only delicious, but also has potential health benefits, as the herbs used in the broth are believed to have medicinal properties. Whether you’re seeking a new culinary adventure or looking for a comforting meal, Bak Kut Teh is a dish worth trying.

Bak Kut Teh: Herbal Pork Rib Soup


  • 1 kg pork ribs, cut into individual pieces
  • 6 cups of water
  • 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup of Chinese cooking wine (Shaoxing wine)
  • 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of dark soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of oyster sauce
  • 3 tablespoons of rock sugar or brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 cup of chopped cilantro (optional)
  • 1/4 cup of chopped green onions (optional)
  • Bak Kut Teh herb mix (usually contains cinnamon, star anise, fennel seeds, cloves, and dried Chinese angelica root)

Cooking Steps

  • Blanch the pork ribs in boiling water for 3-4 minutes to remove impurities. Drain and rinse the ribs under cold water, then set aside.
  • Heat the vegetable oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and sauté until fragrant, being careful not to let it burn.
  • Add the blanched pork ribs to the pot and stir-fry for about 5 minutes, until the ribs are lightly browned on all sides.
  • Add the Chinese cooking wine, soy sauce, dark soy sauce, oyster sauce, rock sugar, white pepper, black pepper, salt, and Bak Kut Teh herb mix to the pot. Stir well to combine.
  • Add the water to the pot, making sure the pork ribs are fully submerged. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for 1.5 to 2 hours, or until the pork ribs are tender.
  • Taste the soup and adjust the seasonings as needed. If desired, add more water to achieve your preferred soup consistency.
  • Before serving, garnish the Bak Kut Teh with chopped cilantro and green onions for added flavor and visual appeal.
  • Enjoy the Bak Kut Teh hot with a side of rice and your choice of additional side dishes, such as tofu or pickled vegetables.

In summary, Bak Kut Teh is a flavorful and comforting dish that showcases the rich culinary heritage of Malaysia and Singapore. Its harmonious blend of tender pork ribs and a fragrant, herbal broth make it a must-try for any food lover. When preparing Bak Kut Teh, it’s essential to use fresh, high-quality ingredients to achieve the best possible flavor. Selecting fresh pork ribs and a quality Bak Kut Teh herb mix is crucial for enhancing the dish’s taste and aroma. So gather your ingredients, embrace the art of slow cooking, and enjoy the delectable flavors of Bak Kut Teh, a truly unique and satisfying meal.

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