Bak Kut Teh is known to be a herbal soup dish originally from China and is believed to take entry into Malaysia in the 19th century. The dish became popular at the port area of Klang where it was being used as traditional breakfast. People of the Guangdong province of SE China prepared the dish and it was being served in River Valley areas of Singapore after World War II. This preparation is believed to be the supplement to boost up health for the port collies. The basic difference of ‘Hokkien’ and ‘Teochew’ version of the dish is its colour. Hokkiens generally use dark soy sauce, so the colour gets darker.
‘Bah Kut Teh’ is prepared with meaty pork ribs, dried shiitake mushrooms, tofu puffs, garlic, cinnamon, star anise etc. The dish generally combined with tea. It is believed that a large amount of fat in the soup gets dissolved in tea.
Two patterns of Bak Kut Teh are served in Singapore. One is of ‘Teochew’ pattern, and another is Klang. The soup consisting of meat or vegetables, or sometimes solidified with ‘barley’ or other cereals makes the basic difference of the dish. Bak Kut Teh of ‘Teochew’ pattern attributed to peppery taste and clarity, while ‘Klang’ pattern demonstrates herbal taste and murky feeling.
Generally, people have it for breakfast, but it can be served at any time of the day. Bak Kut Teh is definitely a soup for re-energizing a person after having a tiring journey.
Ingredients of Bak Kut Teh:
1.5 kg of pork ribs, cutting off every second rib, 3.5 litres of water, 6 dried shiitake mushrooms, 1 bunch of spring onion, For the Bak Kut Teh stock, 1 tablespoon whole coriander seeds, 5 pieces Star anise or fruit of Illicium velum, 2 packs of Bak Kut Teh herbs, ½ cup soy sauce, 1 tablespoon oyster sauce, a few dashes of white pepper powder, salt to taste.
1 sheet rice noodles, sliced into ½ inch strips, 4 fresh Shiitake mushrooms, finely sliced, 1 cup picked coriander leaves, 2 cups bean sprouts, diced pork meat.
For adding flavour:
½ cup fish sauce, ½ cup lime juice, 3 tablespoons white sugar.