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Recipe: Bak Kut Teh

This soup, said to have been invented by the Hokkien Chinese, is a popular dish in Malaysia and Singapore. It is a hearty herbal soup made with pork ribs and eaten with plain boiled rice. Bak Kut Teh, if made with a herbal sachet mix, is a pungent and robust soup and is perhaps not for the feint hearted. However, a second, lighter version using spices and goji berries is also included in this recipe as another option.


1 kg meaty pork spareribs
1 head of garlic (cut across horizontally)
fresh coriander (for garnishing)
1 ltrs water (top up if necessary)
2 tbsp dark soya sauce
1 tsp sugar
salt to taste

1 cinnamon stick
5 cloves
2 tsp white peppercorns
2 whole star anise
1 tbsp goji berries

2 sachets Teans Bak Kut Teh Herb & Spice Mix (1 packet)

Cooking Method

Serves 6

Wash and drain the ribs, cutting the larger ones in half if possible.

Place the ribs, herb packets (optional) and garlic in a large pot.

Add water to cover the ribs and bring the contents to the boil.

Skim off the impurities as the ribs start to boil.

Add spice mix (optional) at this stage.

Add the dark soya sauce and reduce the heat to allow the ribs to cook slowly until they are tender.

This might take 1 - 1 1/2 hours but remember to top up with water if necessary.

When the ribs are cooked, add salt and sugar and adjust seasoning according to taste.

Place sprigs of coriander in the bottom of individual bowls and spoon ribs and soup over.

Serve with cooked rice and a dip of sliced red chillies, dark soya sauce and a squeeze of fresh lime.