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Bak kut teh

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Bak kut teh (Chinese: 肉骨茶; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: bah-kut-tê) is a Chinese soup popularly served in Malaysia, Singapore, Mainland China,Taiwan and the Indonesian island of Riau. The name literally translates as "meat bone tea", and, at its simplest, consists of meaty pork ribs simmered in a complex broth of herbs and spices (including star anise, cinnamon, cloves, dang gui, fennel seeds and garlic) for hours. However, additional ingredients may include offal, varieties of mushroom, choy sum, and pieces of dried tofu or fried tofu puffs. Additional Chinese herbs may include yu zhu (rhizome of Solomon's Seal) and ju zhi (buckthorn fruit), which give the soup a sweeter, slightly stronger flavor. Light and dark soy sauce are also added to the soup during cooking, with varying amounts depending on the variant. Garnishing includes chopped coriander or green onions and a sprinkling of fried shallots.

Bak kut teh is usually eaten with rice or noodles (sometimes as a noodle soup), and often served with youtiao / cha kueh [yau char kwai] (strips of fried dough) for dipping into the soup. Soy sauce is preferred as a condiment, with which chopped chilli padi and minced garlic is taken together. Chinese tea of various kinds is also usually served in the belief that it dilutes or dissolves the copious amount of fat consumed in this pork-laden dish. Bak kut teh is typically a famous morning meal.


Bak kut teh was introduced to Malaya (most likely Singapore as it was the most common port Chinese coolies disembark in Malaya) in the 19th century by Chinese coolies and workers from either Canton, Chaoshan or Fujian.The dish is reported to supplement the meagre diet of port coolies and as a tonic to boost their health. The secret recipe was passed to a friend who later went to Klang and became the first person to commercialise and sell bak kut teh. The dish went on to become a famous dish and was copied and improved many times over. So according to this version, the Hokkiens were the inventors of the dish.


There are numerous variants of bak kut teh with its cooking style closely influenced by the prevailing Chinese enclave of a certain geographical location. In Singapore, there are three types of bak kut teh. The most common variant is the Teochew style, which is light in color but uses more pepper in the soup. The Hoklo (Hokkien), who prefer saltier food, use more soy sauce, which results in a darker soup. The Cantonese, with a soup-drinking culture, add medicinal herbs to create a stronger flavored soup. The Singaporean version of bah kut teh is less strong in taste than the Malaysian version.

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Bak kut teh,


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