Our very own…

Bak kut teh literally means “meat bone tea” but I would think a more accurate name for it would be meat or pork bone herbal soup. You will not find this in China as it is a Malaysian dish, claimed to have originated in (Port) Klang and believed to have been consumed by the coolies or labourers at the port to boost their strength and health.

I have cooked this many times before using those packets of spices and herbs from the peninsula but the other day, I decided to use this…

Sarawak white pepper root bkt 1

My missus must have bought it sometime ago and I had seen it lying around in the house for a while now so I thought I might as well give it a try.

This is packed in Kuching…

Sarawak white pepper root bkt 2

Β …and clear instructions as to how to cook the dish are given at the back…


Add 3 litres of water, it said but I thought that would be a little bit too much for the two of us in the house – my missus and I, so I reduced that to 2 litres. I reckoned that at worst, it would be stronger in its herbal taste and we wouldn’t mind that very much actually. I could not understand what “4 bits of garlic bulbs” meant…and since I had reduced the water, I just threw two bulbs in. Not one to follow recipes/instructions to the letter, I also put in a handful of goji or wolf berries and a few dried Shitake mushrooms together with the two pouches that came in that one packet…

Step 1

…and brought that to boil.

Nope, I did not let it boil for 30 minutes – after around 15 minutes, I decided it was time to put in the meat and I brought it back to boil once again and when the meat was cooked…

Step 2

…I lowered the heat and let it simmer for about 30 minutes.

The instructions said, “…add 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, dark soya sauce and oyster sauce…” and I could not, for the dear life of me, figure out the difference between soy sauce and dark soya sauce…so I just added two tablespoons of the mushroom soy that we always use in the house plus another two tablespoons of oyster sauce…

Step 3

Finally, add salt and monosodium glutamate powder to taste,” it said. What? More msg??? No, thank you. In my opinion, there would be enough msg already in the oyster sauce and I would not want any more salt either – the soy sauce would be salty enough.

I let it simmer for a long time, 30 minutes, at least and then it was ready to be served…

Bak kut teh 1

…with a sprinkling of chopped daun sup (Chinese celery) on top.

Yes, it was just right – the meat was nice and tender…

Bak kut teh 2

…and it was not too strong in its herbal taste, not too salty and no overload of msg.

However, the next time I use this particular brand of spices and herbs, I would go ahead and add 4 bulbs of garlic instead of just 2 as I would prefer the garlicky fragrance to be a little stronger…

Bak kut teh 3

…but on the whole, it was good enough. Perhaps a dash or two or more of pepper would be nice as well seeing that, despite the name – “Sarawak wild pepper root”, it was not peppery at all, not even the slightest hint of it and I would have liked a bit of that.

We had it with rice, of course, and for our vegetable dish, I fried some Chinese cabbage with young baby corn…

Vegetable dish

…together with some sotong (squid) and sliced fish cake. I’m afraid there wasn’t much colour in it and I did not bother with the presentation since it was just for the two of us at home to eat and enjoy.

Well, the weekend’s here! Anybody thinking of cooking some bak kut teh? Perhaps you can give this brand a try. It’s available at most, if not all, of the supermarkets in town and many of the grocery stores as well.

Author: suituapui

Ancient relic but very young at heart. Enjoys food and cooking...and travelling and being with friends.

15 thoughts on “Our very own…”

  1. How creative!!! It does look good and tender! πŸ™‚

    Would be good if you’re into those Chinese herbal soups. Some people are not into those.

  2. Oh yes, i like bak kut teh’s soup, love those tau kuah with chopped garlic and dark soya sauce!

    You mean tauhu pok. bean curd puffs? Yet to see anybody adding tau kua to bkt. My girl loves those puffs – that’s why we have that in our homecooked Sarawak laksa – not usually found in it if you eat it outside. My missus would add tauhu kee (bean curd sticks) when she cooks bkt – I am not fond of doing that as I always feel it will change the taste, not really the same as the real thing anymore.

  3. lovely-looking recipe … a lot more wholesome and appetising than some versions sold at shops … ooo, a little tidbit: when i was young, i hated bak kut teh cos it always tasted weird to me, and i only learned to like it in my 20s πŸ˜€

    Kids usually don’t like anything herbal.

    I first had it in KL in 1986 when I was there for a year – the lane at Bukit Bintang beside Agora Hotel – between the hotel and a bakery/cake shop in the next block (where they have A&W & McD these days). They’ve “upgraded” the place now of course – all those very nice places are no longer there – one wanton mee stall (plus other nice hawker delights) in a coffee shop, then there was one with really great dim sum – bought a whole lot home…and a stall by the roadside selling the best giant steamed chicken pao and lovely changs and when Seremban sio pao took the world by storm, a stall appeared there too. I miss all those!

    These days, nothing much in Bukit Bintang other than those foot reflexology and massage joints…and hooligan taxi drivers waiting for a kill and pimps asking, “Ah Hia! You want China girl?” Always stayed in a hotel that area in the past – not all that keen anymore.

  4. BKT! Yummzz! Mil cooks very good BKT too, with lots of fatty pork, intestines and pig stomach.. All my favourite.. But pregnant ladies can’t take BKT, it will promote bleeding because of the herbs and all – heaty..

    Sigh!!!! I only had some pork bones in the freezer that day. 😦 Oh??? Didn’t know that. Must let my pregnant friend know…

    1. Who’s pregnant? You, Louiz? ^^

      Yeap. I also avoid bkt when I were preggie.

      Hahahahaha!!! Let’s wait for her response. πŸ˜‰

  5. Yum yum! I want a bowl please! ^^

    Nice post on your cooking, Arthur! I enjoyed reading it.

    Thanks for your sweet words. You’re very kind.

  6. I love BKT! And I love it with lots of garlic flavor too. Mmmm….really feel like having some soon. I like to eat with sliced chilli padi, raw minced garlic and soya sauce.

    No problem, lots where you are.

  7. Wow your bak kut teh sure looks good. I also like this soupy type, we usually have it once a week for dinner πŸ™‚

    Wow!!! That’s very frequent. We just have it once in a while.

  8. Indeed nice and suitable for cold weathers these days.. BKT, I seldom take.. whenever I suggested it, my kids never say “Let’s go!” Does your Melissa like BKT too?

    She doesn’t mind, would want it sometimes for a change but she prefers it with noodles, not rice. Poor you! I know you love herbal stuff very much, great health boosters, but not many young people do.

  9. I think they meant 4 WHOLE garlic bulbs – that’s what the BM translation says anyway.

    I’ve had this version too, it’s not popular here but BKT shops back home will ask if you want a “pepper” version, even the supposedly authentic “ba zhen” (Klang) ones.

    Oh? I did not look at the BM version. Yes, 4 would be nice for a stronger garlic taste. I’m ok with or without pepper, fine with it as it is.

  10. I love BKT, most of the time we cooked it at home. I think my mother in law did add in some soya sauce into the soup, one to the color and another is the taste. I did heard she said have to use those nicer soya sauce to make the different, i don’t know, i only know how to eat. kkekekeke. I like those with stronger herbs taste BKT. πŸ˜€

    This one’s not very strong despite the fact that I used less water. We usually use the A1 Brand ones.

  11. The label says Vegetarian – so that means there isn’t actual meat bones in there????

    No, just herbs…but they are used for cooking meat. Maybe it is good for cooking bean curd too – including bean curd sticks and bean curd puffs. Some people add these together with the meat but we’ve never tried cooking them on their own.

All opinions expressed in my blog are solely my own, that is my prerogative - you may or may not agree, that is yours. To each his/her own. For food and other reviews, you may email me at sibutuapui@yahoo.com

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