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Photo: Pinterest.

Food in Singapore has cultural influences from all over the world and has been assembled together to create something totally unique. You find many cultures, Chinese, Indonesian, Southern Indian, and Malay influencing the food of Singapore, resulting in a cuisine which unlike any country you have ever travelled to.

What is Singapore's Bak Kut Teh?

Bak Kut Teh is one of the very popular dishes people must try when they come to Singapore. You will find this soup throughout the streets of the country. Singaporean say they start to crave this dish in just a few days when they are travelling away from Singapore, as cited by Food Panda.

The name is literally translated as ‘Meat Bone Tea’, but the name is rather misleading because Bak Kut Teh does not actually contain any tea at all, it is a soup! Perhaps it’s the soup’s colour that resembles tea. Customarily Bak Kut Teh is prepared through many hours of simmering meaty pork ribs in a broth of pepper and garlic, amongst other herbs. There are many different versions of Bak Kut Teh: the Hokkien style soup or Klang which is dark in colour, thicker and more herbal, whereas the Teochew style is a clear and peppery soup. The following is a Teochew style.

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Bak Kut Teh (Teochew style). Photo: Roti and Rice

How to cook Singapore's Bak Kut Teh (Teochew style)

There are two versions of pork ribs tea. The hearty herbal Klang Bak Kut Teh is the standard in the Klang Valley of Malaysia. Across the Causeway in Singapore, the clear garlicky and peppery version known as Singapore Teochew Bak Kut Teh predominates, according to Roti and Rice.

Ingredients to cook Bak Kut Teh

  • 12 Chinese mushroom (rinse and soak for 30 minutes)
  • 3 lbs pork ribs (cut into bite-size pieces) (1.4kg)
  • 12 cups water (2.9 litres)
  • 2 sachets Bak Kut Teh spices
  • 1 bulb garlic (rinse but do not separate)
  • 1 tsp white peppercorns (smashed)
  • Salt to taste

Instructions to cook Bak Kut Teh

1. Wash and soak dried mushrooms in hot water for 30 minutes. When rehydrated, drain, and cut off stalks.

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Photo: Roti and Rice

2. Fill a large pot half full of water. Bring to a boil. Add pork ribs. Allow it to blanch for 4 to 5 minutes. Remove with tongs and rinse in cold water. Discard water left in the pot.

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Photo: Roti and Rice

3. Rinse out the pot and fill with 12 cups (2.9 litres) of freshwater. Bring to a boil.

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Photo: Roti and Rice

4. Add blanched pork ribs, Bak Kut Teh sachet, garlic bulb, mushrooms, and peppercorns. Bring water back up to a boil. Reduce heat to low and allow soup to simmer for 1 hour. Skim off any scum appearing on the surface.

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Photo: Roti and Rice

5. Add salt to taste. Turn off the stove.

6. Serve with steamed rice, yew char kway (a.k.a. as you tiao or Chinese crullers), cut chillies and minced garlic in soy sauce.

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