Monday, June 15, 2009

Bak Kut Teh Recipe aka Traditional Herbal Pork Ribs Soup Recipe

I thought cooking Bak Kut Teh in exchange for Angela’s hydroponic grown chilli was going to be easy as ordering a takeaway. But it didn’t turn out as anticipated. We checked our pantry and found that some of the herbs for making the Bak Kut Teh, (herbal soup with pork ribs and pork loin), were running low. Subsequently, we went to the Chinese herbal medicine shop in the next suburd. To our dismay, the herbalist could not understand the Romanised Cantonese such as Tong Kwai, Sook Tei, Kei Chee, Chuin Kung and Yoke Chok hand written in an exercise book we have kept in the kitchen drawer. We politely turned down his offer of other herbal concoctions and left thinking to myself whether Angela would know the difference if we used the ready made Bak Kut Teh herb sachet commonly found in Asian grocery stores and supermarkets. We didn’t have much choice, as it would take us at least 40 minutes to drive to Chinatown in Sydney and the chances of finding a parking space on a busy Saturday was as rare as a chicken’s tooth.

Obviously Angela didn’t know the difference, but we felt bad not to let the cat out of the bag. We bought the Bak Kut Teh herbal sachet and simply followed the direction written on the packaging. Though we did add some other herbs such as the Goji berries(Kei Chee), Yoke Chok and sliced Tong Kwai and also added seasoning to our personal taste. The homemade Bak Kut Teh was simple to cook after all.

Bak Kut Teh Recipe:


1kg pork ribs
1 ½ kg pork loin
3lt water
5 cloves whole garlic
3 tbsp thick dark soya sauce
5 tbsp light soya sauce
Salt to taste
2 tbsp oyster sauce (optional)
15g goji berries(kei chee)
15pcs dried shitake mushrooms (soaked in water till soften)
Cooking method:
Put in the 2 sachets, meat garlic, and other ingredients into boiling water. Simmer for at least 1 ½ hour.

Traditional Herbal Recipe:

15g sliced Tong Kwai
20g Tong Sum
15g Chuin Kung
25g Sook Tei
25g Kei Chee
20g Yoke Chok
3 pcs Kam Choe
1 tsp cumin seed
1 tsp fennel seed
5 cloves
2 star anise
5cm cinnamon stick
1 tsp white peppercorns
1 tsp black peppercorns
Put all the herbs in a muslin bag to form a sachet.


  1. no difference no difference
    which one did you buy?
    My bf and I like the Prima one, we found yu ren shen one a bit sour for us

  2. It's interesting to note the type of herbs that go into making bak kut teh. We'd usually just use the ready-made satchet from Seah or Prima.

    Perhaps you can go to the herbal shops in Cabra next time? :)

  3. Yum! next time u cook,i come. cheers

  4. Hi Angel,
    We bought the Claypot Klang Bakuteh Herbs and Spices Mix. It was OK isn't it?
    Bring your BF for the next "bring a plate dinner". Must introduce to the SG clan leh..

  5. HI HW,
    Ya loh, it is so much easier to buy and cook from the ready-mix satchet. My job is to find out what is in the ready-mix and write them for this blog B4 we forgotten them :) Furthermore,some compatriots live in places where they can't get them so have to cook from scratch.
    Definitely will try to replenish my pantry by shopping afar. But have to support local traders leh to reduce carbon foorprint.. :0
    I'll pass the shopping list to you.

  6. Hi Jim,
    Thanks for the visit and comment. We like the Bak Kut Teh herbal mix you gave to us a couple of years back, very much.
    Unfortunaely we could not remember the name of the brand, so we didn't get them during our last visit to Malaysia. Can you remember what it is?

    We love to have you and family for the next makan session. How is yr study?


  7. Hi Uncle Phil, im living in norway and i found your site interesting with write ups and recipes cos i normally make my own meals here due to it's rather ulu ;P You're doing a great job, Keep it up! :)

  8. Hi Chrish,
    Thanks for your visit and feedback. I hope that many Overseas Singaporeans will find this blog and use as a platform to share their experiences of living abroad in "ulu places" and comradeship among us.

  9. Uncle Phil,
    I usually use the Seah's brand of bak kut teh. I find it's not as strong so my family love it. Thanks for sharing the traditional ingredients.

  10. Hi Charming,
    It is charming of you to visit and comment.We welcome your feedback and thanks for sharing too. It will be nice if you tell us where you are writting from so that we know where are all the Sg living and whether they can get the ingredients there.

  11. The website is widely popular over the internet for containing in-depth informative material on herbal cure, benefits of medicinal herbs, edible flowers, allopathic medicines etc and further, the resource section of the site is striking for containing significant details on entertainment, health and beauty, men’s health etc.

  12. I dont hv much experience with BKT. Once during a visit to Penang, I tasted some of hubby's lunch n it was so bitter - yikes !

    Just last month we went to stock up in Amsterdam (hour by train) n hubby spotted the last pack (made in SG). I made that with chicken bec pai kuat is unknown here (dutch dont want to pay for bones - just pure meat !). Halfway thru, hubby asked if it's true abt BKT being a soup unsuitable for female consumption. I'm hv no idea ! My BIL from M'sia has apparently told him that tale *sigh*
    Anycow, it was a very nice soup - took a little getting used to the strong aroma but we both enjoyed it. We paid € 1,50 for the pack n € 1,99 for a kg of chicken (used only 1/3 of it). Would be great to share the food prices with others around the world, right ? *wink*

  13. Hi Dutchie,
    We think your hubby must have heard about the Chinese angelica root (当归 dang gui). According the our folklore medicine,the Chinese angelica root has a very important place in women's health. It is supposed to strengthen the blood, nourish the female reproductive organs, regulate menstruation and alleviate period pains.
    Do not add too much to your soup as it has a bitter after-taste and emits a certain woody aroma that develops into a strong flavour when cooked.
    We are lucky to have access to Chinese butcher shops in Sydney but have to rely on our limited Mandarin to order what we wanted. Is is pity that we didn't pay attention to our vernacular Teacher when we were in school :0.
    That's a good idea to exchange info on food prices and will post it shortly, when we know the currency conversion.

  14. Hi uncle Phil. Thank you so much for providing the true authentic ingredients for the BKT recipe. However I don't speak mandarin & is not familiar with Chinese herbals. May you could actually add a reliable link of the pic for each herbals so we can easily find them by looking at the pics to buy those ingredients.

    1. Thanks for your visit and comment to the blog. I will take this request as a next posting...;)