Bah Kut Teh (Pork Rib Tea)

No matter if you eat a little or a lot of garlic, the smell is just as strong.
~ Tibetan Proverb

Bah Kut Teh (Hokkien for “pork rib tea”) is a soup served in Malaysia and Singapore. Story has it that it originated from a town in Malaysia called Port Klang. Generally it is cooked in a clay pot with various parts of the pig, varieties of mushroom, lettuce, and dried tofu sheets or tofu puff. The soup itself is a broth which consists of several herbs and spices (including star anise, cinnamon, cloves and garlic) which have been boiled together with meat for many hours. Light and dark soy sauce are also added to the soup during cooking, with varying amounts depending on the variant.

Bah Kut Teh is commonly eaten with rice, and particularly in Malaysia, often served with strips of fried dough called Yau Char Kwai (or Youtiao in Mandarin). Dark soy sauce is used as a condiment, sometimes accompanied with chopped chilli padi, which is ultra hot that it can kill your taste buds! Tea is also usually served in the belief that it dilutes or dissolves the copious amounts of fat which are consumed in the eating of this dish.

This dish is normally served as breakfast or brunch but over time has gained acceptance as a dinner dish.


  • 1 kg of pork meat
  • 1 package of fried tofu puff
  • 1 package of dried bean curd stick
  • 8 pieces of dried shiitake mushroom
  • 1 bulb of garlic
  • 1 package of Bah Kut Teh seasoning mix

The ingredients above is sufficient to make 8 servings. Be warned, this is a lot of food. We normally make it once and eat them over two days. You can use chicken to substitute the pork but not beef. For this time, I use pork shoulder meat but if you prefer something leaner, you can use pork ribs instead.


  1. 1 pair of fried dough (you may find this in Chinese Bakery)
  2. Garlic
  3. Thai chilli


IMG_3636_edited-1First of all, soak bean curd stick and dried shiitake mushrooms to soften them. The bean curd sticks and mushrooms are dry and hard. This will take about 15 minutes to soften them.
IMG_3642_edited-1The pork is cut into bite-sized chunks — any size you prefer. We like it in bigger chunks. Cut off the fatty part if you don’t like the meat with too much fat.
IMG_3643_edited-1Bah Kut Teh has a very strong garlic flavour. Be warned, your breathe will smell of garlic after the meal. We used eight cloves of garlic but you may use lesser or more depending on how much garlic you like or can stomach.
IMG_3644_edited-1For the seasoning mix, we use the “A1” seasoning mix. We bought it from the chinese stores in Richmond. It’s quite common in those stores. The A1 Bah Kut Teh seasoning mix contains of 2 separate packets, sufficient to make 8 servings each. We only used one packet of the seasoning mix.
IMG_3646_edited-1You need two pots. The first pot is where you boil the broth and another to blanch the ingredients.In the first pot, bring about 8 cups of water to a boil. Once boiling, throw in a packet of Bak Kut Teh seasoning mix with the packaging (don’t tear the packaging) and the cloves of garlic.
IMG_3651_edited-1At the meantime, bring the second pot of water to a boil. You use this pot to blanch the tofu puff for 30 seconds to get rid of the excess oil. I normally cut the tofu puff into half for better absorption of flavor.

Remove and set aside the blanched tofu puff. We will add in the tofu into the main pot prior to serving.

IMG_3657_edited-1I suggest that you blanch the meat for a couple of minutes to remove excess fats. This cleans up the meat too.

After two minutes of blanching, transfer the meat to the main Bah Kut Teh soup pot. The meat will need to be cooked for another 30 minutes. This is to soften the meat further.

IMG_3659_edited-1These are the seasonings to flavor the soup and to darken the broth. They are:

  • 1 tablespoon of dark soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoon of light soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of oyster sauce
  • salt to taste
IMG_3662_edited-1The seasoning are added to the Bah Kut Teh soup following the meat. Simmer the meat for 30 minutes in medium heat for 30 minutes.
IMG_3669_edited-1After 30 minutes, add in the mushroom, tofu puff and beancurd stick that you soften earlier.
IMG_3671_edited-1Simmer for another 15 minutes and … ta da … the Bah Kut Teh soup is ready to be served.
IMG_3677_edited-1To enjoy Bah Kut Teh, the most important condiments are:

  • chopped Thai chilli
  • chopped garlic with dark and light soy

Warning: Do not eat this dish with the raw garlic if you have a date later.

You know, I think this is an acquired taste. Malaysians and Singaporeans loves this dish. What do you think, honestly?

This Post Has 0 Comments

  1. Matt

    Wow, I definitely think I need to bookmark your blog, although I might just salivate the entire time.

  2. Erik

    Good! I must try this weekend. 🙂

  3. Ben

    Let me know how yours turn out Erik.

  4. aNn

    i love ur blog – and am so homesick seeing those familiar places in Vancou.

  5. Tatiana

    I had a dish similar to this. It was more like a stew than a soup though. It had dried bean curd, dried mushrooms and star anise but it was made with chicken and I’ve been looking for a recipe. I might try making this one with chicken to see if it tastes the same 🙂 I’m so excited to make this now.

  6. Candy

    I don’t Bah Kut Teh is too difficult to acquire a tatse for. My caucasian husband loves it. I heard from a friend who studied in Australia that his dormates like the smell of herbal soups boiling. What they didn’t like was when he fried ikan bilis, though my husband loves them.

  7. bryan ong

    hey suanne, love the post, but i’d like to point out that, contrary to popular belief – and i hate to admit it as a malaysian, but – bah kut teh originated from our tiny neighbour, singapore. bah kut teh is their heritage food, it was brought over by hokkiens to malaysia and then made famous by the people in port klang (hokkiens called them ba sang lang). just so you know. cheers.

  8. Shmoo

    Mmmmm… 🙂

    Only had it as it’s made locally in Vancouver. The addition of tofu puffs, beancurd sticks, and condiments makes it sound even better!

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