Nanzaro-Inspired Bah Kut Teh Hot Pot in Chez Suanne

About a month ago, we experimented with having hot pot with a difference.

Instead of the usual broth you normally find in hot pot restaurants, we tried it with laksa instead. And it was not just any laksa … it was with Bo’s Laksa. Many people swear that Bo’s Laksa has no equal in Vancouver. The Laksa Hot Pot was fabulous and you should try it at home. You can see our post of the Laksa Hot Pot here.

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That successful trial set us thinking about other possibilities … what else besides Laksa would make a great hot pot? It has to be something you do not come across in hot pot restaurants.

Well, we found another winner! This time it is Bah Kut Teh Hot Pot.

There is a problem I want to address up front. I received complain from a certain individual that sometimes I do not credit him for being the originator of the idea. I had many lunches and dinners with this individual before. So this time I want to make it right. I was reminded repeatedly by him (almost everyday!) that when I write this post, I must call out the fact that idea did not come from Ben and the idea did not come from Suanne.

So ladies and gentleman … as requested … the whole idea for the Bah Kut Teh Hot Pot is … 

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… Nanzaro! Isn’t he a cutie like his dad?

Nanzaro is the guy that reminded me almost everyday that the BKT Hot Pot is entirely his idea. He also said that it was his brother’s dad’s wife one who cooked it … and that I cannot take all glory for writing about it.

So I think that for this BKT Hot Pot, Nanzaro is considered the Executive Chef while Suanne is the Sous Chef.

Ben and Arkensen were the customers. We forgot to assign someone to be the cashier. That is why we did not get the bill at the end of the meal.

That sort of thing.

[Happy now, Nanzaro?]

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I tweeted about my Nanzaro’s plans to make BKT Hot Pot. Gigi (of hoyummy.com) picked up that tweet. After a few exchanges, we decided to make a virtual joint experiment and blog about it at the same time. I got so caught up with so many things and failed to post this one this morning. Well, better late than never right? Anyway, I would like you to swing over to Gigi’s post and read of her post before coming back to read the rest of this post.

Yeah, after you read her post, you come back and read mine, alright?

LOL!

We have three types of BKT spices in the pantry. Suanne always stock them up so that we can have BKT anytime we want.

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Our favourite is the one on the left. This is called A1 and is one of the more popular one from Malaysia. 9 out of 10 times, we use A1 at home. If you had never tried making BKT at home before I recommend you try get this. You can get this in many Asian stores.

The one on the right most is Uncle Sun. That brand is our backup brand, so to speak. Sometimes when the stores run out of the A1 brand we will use this brand.

The difference between A1 and Uncle Sun is this … A1 is simple with just a couple of spice bags. The spices in the bags are ground up and the stuff will not cloud the broth. Uncle Sun, on the other hand, had real complete herbs that you can see. Some people like it that way but we did not quite like it because the broth it makes is not “ching” (clear) enough.

The middle one is one we had never tried before. That one we bought it from Kuo Hua and it is a Taiwanese version.

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When we made the BKT broth for the hot pot, unfortunately Suanne found that the A1 packet was ripped. Rather than chancing it, she decided to make use of Uncle Sun’s BKT spices instead.

As you can perhaps see the herbs in the pot — the yook jook and star anise among other stuff we can’t even begin to name.

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See? The Uncle Sun broth is murky looking. It also tasted quite medicinal and herbal’ish. To many people this is supposed to be better and purer way to make BKT. We just did not quite like the residue of spices left into this. Not that it tasted bad or anything …

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… it is because the A1 BKT tasted a lot more better. Perhaps it is just a personal preference. We had the BKT hot pot a week after and we made it with the A1 spices the second time round.

See above … you can see the difference between the two BKT hot pot, can you not? The A1 BKT broth is more “soya-saucey” and sweet tasting.

I won’t go into how to make the BKT because Suanne had earlier blogged about it. Just go to this post if you are interested how to cook BKT. It is very simple and I betcha that you will like it.

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This time we paid a bit more attention to the meat. We decided that we want to get meat that is rolled because our theory says that if it is rolled it is fresher.

You see, when the meat is sliced from a frozen block, it will naturally roll. If left for sometime, it will collapse and flatten.

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The above were the meats we bought for the 1st hot pot. These ones are bought from the Richmond Public Market. That is a stall that sells meat. They looked very fresh and they said that they just sliced it an hour earlier.

Actually, don’t buy the meats from T&T. They are more expensive at T&T. You are better off going to the meat stalls in Asian markets which is both cheap and fresh.

For these ones above it was:

  • Hand Cut Slice Lamb Roll – $6.50
  • Lamb Shoulder Slice – $6.50
  • Handcut Slice Pork Roll – $4.70
  • Handcut Slice Beef Roll – $7.00

All of them are 0.75 lb except for Lamb Shoulder Slice (not roll) which is 1 lb.

We had so many hot pots at home and outside these days, we had developed liking for lamb. They are always good. While beef are more common, the good ones are depending on the cut. Often they are tough.

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Our second favourite cut is the Pork Toro which is also known as pork cheeks. The above is how it looked like after it was cooked. It is part fat and part lean. What makes this great is that it is crunchy and tender. We had this during our second BKT hot pot (the one with the A1 spices).

Going forward we will definitely have this pork toro. We bought the pork toro from the meat shop on Leslie Road in Richmond.

So, our first choice is lamb shoulders and second choice is pork toro.

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For me, the most important component of a hot pot meal is the birdeye chili. Without this, the meal seems incomplete even though sometimes it causes me “plumbing problems” the next day. Yeah, no one else eat this except me.

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Also the minced raw garlic is another must have. And again this is enjoyed only by me. Everyone runs away to another room if they hear me burp the night after I had this.

I can’t help it. I like it.

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The enoki and shiitake mushrooms are not my idea but it is Suanne who insisted that we all have something that is not meat. Yeah, these ones we all will tolerate …

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… but certainly not this. Only Suanne will eat this. She is on a mission to eat healthy. I think she had been attending too many Community Kitchens. 🙂

Help! Suanne had been brainwashed to eat healthy and she is trying to brainwash us too! LOL!

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Fried tofu puff is what all of us will eat. Suanne blanched it beforehand to get rid of excess oil.

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Ben wants rice and Nanzaro wants udon.

I had a special request to make day-old rice to go with the BKT soup. I like the rice dry.

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Yeah … on the left is how I like my rice … soup and rice.

What makes the BKT Hot Pot a winner is because it is more drinkable than the other usual hot pot soup. With the BKT soup you can drink bowl after bowl of the soup but with others it is kind of salty and can induce thirst.

Cooking all the various types of meat in the BKT soup gives the soup a different and more complex taste. While BKT is usually just pork, the addition of the lamb and beef changes the soup.

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Suanne uses pork neck bones to make the BKT soup. You don’t need premium pork meat to make it. The bones will do. As a matter of the fact, the bones will do better!

Pork neck bones is just $1 per pound. 2 lbs is more than adequate.

There is no taste after it was cooked in the BKT but Suanne being one who does not waste food, will finish them off. Trust me, we keep telling her that it’s just $2 and she should just take the lamb and beef.

What a gal, huh?

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Yeah, the pork neck meat is quite tasteless but it can be somewhat salvaged with nice sauce.

Suanne had been experimenting for sometime now to get that perfect concoction of sweet soy sauce. She based it off the one that was from fmed’s original recommendation. She is not quite there yet but it gets better with each new version.

The version above must be like version 3.3 already. It is a combination of soya sauce plus sugar plus water plus star anise.

So far versions 3.x uses Kikoman Soya Sauce. Suanne had bought several bottles of Pearl River brand soy sauce which sould be lighter than Kikoman for the version 4.x series of experiments.

Someday Suanne will perfect the concoction. The blend will be a secret recipe which will be stored in some secret cave in Arizona (something like that). That concoction will be what make Chez Suanne famous.

Someday …

This Post Has 25 Comments

  1. But Suanne, wouldn’t eating all the pork neck bones render the meal unhealthy? LOL! My parents would often eat those meat off the bones from the soup my mom boiled. Nowadays with their “seniors eating healthier blah”, they don’t and give them to my dog who is also a senior. Sigh… yes, they still don’t want to waste the food either.

    1. Hi Lissa: Oh yeah, you are right there.
      Hi Suanne: Aiyah, you got “jar doh” already.
      Ben

  2. Oh my! What an idea…BKT hot pot!!! Mmm…I just got to try that at home! A1 packet…got it! I will go and scout that out!!!

    I am just like Suanne, I will eat those bones…I quite enjoy it!!!

    1. Hi Buddha Girl: You are the creative one when it comes to food (eg. Typhoon Shelter Fried Rice!). Can you think of any other type of broth worth experimenting for hot pot? 🙂 Ben

  3. Great post, Ben! 🙂 Pork toro sounds like it would go great with bak kut teh and hot pot. I’ve never tried A1 before…can you get it here? I always just use whatever spice packets my in-laws bring back for me from Malaysia 🙂

    1. Hi gigi: Yeah, A1 is pretty common. You can find it in most Asian grocery stores in Richmond. Not sure about Vancouver downtown area though. Sometimes they do run out in some stores so you might have to check a few stores. Ben

  4. Another good brand for BKT is Tean’s Gourmet, available here in Canada. Btw, I am not affiliated with Tean’s, but I feel all their sauces are great(Laksa, curry chicken, sambal tumis). You missed one very important ingredient..”yau-char-kwai” aka chinese doughnut!!

    1. Hi Chris: Yeah, we like Tean’s Gourmet brand too but we are not aware they have BKT spices too. We tried their spicy sauces before. Not bad. Oh yeah, you are right … we should have added “yau-char-kwai” too. 🙂 Ben

  5. I would NOT recommend storing Suanne’s secret recipe in any cave here in Arizona. Most of our deeper caves are home to bats, and where there are bats, there’s lots and lots of guano. So unless you have a vegetable garden and need fertilizer for it, you would be better off paying for a Swiss bank vault for her soon-to-be-famous secret recipe.

    1. Hi Maggie: LOL! You are funny. Ben

  6. Way to upload a picture of me when I was young =.=”

    1. You’re a cutie!! We parents love to embarrass our kids. ; )

      1. hehe! is this Nanzaro’s first time posting a comment here?

        1. Yeah, that was Nanzaro’s first comment. He wasn’t too happy when I told him over dinner that people are calling him a cutie. He said it is all my fault and his reputation is ruined. LOL! Just so to fix this. That picture was a very old picture and today he is a fine, strong and positive young man. People loves him and he does not have a mean steak in his heart at all. I know he will do Suanne and I proud when he grows up. Ben

    2. awwwww….but you are such a cutey pie….the world deserves to meet you!
      Sounds like you might be an aspiring chef, waiting to blossom…too, great idea for hot pot!

      1. Oh no, JoyLC … being Asian parents, we want Nanzaro grow up to be a doctor, lawyer or engineer. Don’t plant thoughts of his being a chef in his mind. He might just do it. LOL! Anyway, I think we are safe … he just told us that “Nah … there is no money in being a chef”. Whew … Ben

  7. Nanzaro is so adorable…..I also like A1 & Tean brand BKT. Have a pkg of Uncle Sun but haven’t tried it yet. With the BKT hotpot, you should also try it with chicken (I use free range or black silkie marinated in rice wine & sesame oil), precooked pig stomach, intestine & fu-chuk (beancurd stick). BTW, I’m also into soup bones but for BKT hotpot, I use back ribs which everyone fights for!

    Off subject, wanna know if you have tried Argo Cafe before, a hidden gem with affordable & great food. Check out their daily specials @ http://www.argocafe.ca. The food is amazing and the lunch specials come with daily soup. Average price for a meal is $11.50. Another one I haven’t tried yet is Adesso Bistro (Italian). Wonder if they are good!

    1. Hi HM: The Argo Cafe sounds really good. Looks like a hidden gem like you said. Just did a bit of digging around and found that they were also filed by “You Gotta Eat Here”. Thanks for the reco! Ben

  8. Hi Ben, I’ve been looking out in Asian stores in my country (Holland) for BKT spice mix, but couldn’t find anything marked with the words ‘Bah Kut Teh’ like I see for example on your A1 brand. Is there some other English description on the packages I can look for? Chinese characters are certainly too difficult for me!

    1. HI Janneke: I had updated this blog post with close-up pictures of the A1 BKT spice mix (front and back). Click on the pictures so that it shows larger. Other names for Bah Kut Teh would be “pork rib tea” but not many people uses that name. I am thinking that these spice mixes are cheap and light. It will not be too expensive for someone you know in Malaysia to buy and ship you some. Hope Ben

  9. Relax Ben, Nanzaro could be the next Ming Tsai or “Yan Can Cook” chef! With a Dad who is a big time blogger, that will help propel him into stardom quickly..LOL!!! There is money if you can make it but it is hard work. Good idea on the Bak Kut Teh hot pot, never tried it. I like seafood in my hotpot and I doubt that will be good with Bak Kut Teh. It has to be just meat like what you have. Yes, A1 is my favorite too and also cos friends and relatives buy me tons of A1 curry and BKT packages when I visit Singapore. I can’t find A1 in New Jersey.. maybe NYC chinatown. Reading your blog makes me want to move to Richmond.

  10. Just made BKT for dinner. Got the Tean’s Gourmet as A1 was not available at the store I was in. I also got the pork jowl. Really good after cooking it in the BKT soup.

    I keep thinking this pork jowl will be so good stir fried with lots of chilli ala Alvin Garden dishes. I’ve been getting the lunch special there these days and the Hunanese spiciness will go so well with the pork jowl.

    1. Hi Lissa: Yeah, the A1 BKT spices do run out every now and then. That is why we usually stock them when we see it. Hmmm … pork jowl with Hunan style chili sounds like a good idea! Ben

  11. anyone, where can i buy A1 bak kut teh packets online???
    thanks.

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