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Singapore Style Bak Kut Teh

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Bak kut teh is a delicious soup with lots of meat for a perfect main meal.

There are different varieties of bak kut teh which translates as pork rib tea. More on that later in the post.

This is a Singapore version which is quite different to the herbal bak kut teh soup from China. There are only a few ingredients in the bak kut teh recipe but they work amazingly well together. This is so good!

bak kut tah

Mildly spiced with the flavour of delicious pork broth, star anise, cinnamon and black and white pepper.

Why the Singapore version?

Travel through Singapore, Malaysia and/or Indonesia and you are almost certain to find hakken food stalls serving up bak kut teh to hundreds of hungry customers.

This is a Chinese inspired soup. In China and many other place, a large variety of difficult to find Chinese dried herbs are added to the stock.

I decided to show you this version as these hard to find herbs are not required. That said, if you find yourself in a Chinese grocer, look for the bags of  bak kut teh herbs. You could definitely add them to this recipe which is very good.

What are tofu puffs?

You can purchase prepared tofu puffs at Chinese grocers. They are really easy to make though.

Cut some firm tofu into bite sized cubes. The deep or shallow fry until they appear spongy. That’s it. It takes about 5 minutes to deep fry and a little longer to shallow fry as the tofu needs to be turned often to cook all sides. 

So why is it called pork rib tea?

Two reasons. First, the spices are all bundled up into a muslin to simmer in the soup, similar to a tea bag.

The finished bak kut teh is also the same colour as tea. It’s clear like tea too because the meat is first simmered for ten minutes and then washed of all impurities.

This is an optional step but it give you a much clearer stock.


Step by step photographs.

Ingredients for bak kut tey

Get all of your ingredients together before starting. It’s a lot easier.

Simmering pork in the pan

Bring a pot of water to a boil and add the pork belly pieces and pork ribs. Simmer for 10 minutes.

Washing pork

Strain through a colander and discard the water. Wash the pork and remove any blood or other impurities.

Grinding white and black peppercorns

While the pork is simmering, you can prepare your spice pack. Grind the white and black peppercorns.

Making the spice pack for the broth.

Place the cracked peppercorns, cinnamon and star anise in a muslin cloth.

Tied cloth with spices in it.

Be sure to tie it up tightly so that no spices escape during cooking.

Adding pork and water to the pot.

Return the pork pieces and crushed garlic to the pot and cover with 2.5 litre (10 cups) water.

Adding tofu and mushrooms to the stock in the pan

After 40 minutes of simmering, add the soaked mushrooms and tofu and continue simmering for another 30 to 45 minutes.

Adding soy sauce and fish sauce to the stock.

Once the meat is really tender, stir in the soy sauce and mushrooms. Check for seasoning and add more soy sauce or fish sauce to taste.

Finished bak kut teh

Serve with white rice and chilli soy sauce.

bak kut teh

Enjoy the soup. The meat can be taken out and dipped in the spicy soy sauce.

If you like this buk kut teh recipe, you might like to try some of these pork recipes too…

Sri Lankan Black Pork Curry
Goan Pork Vindaloo
Vietnamese Pork and Lemongrass Skewers
Thai pork skewers

Yield: 4

Singapore Style Bak Kut Teh

Bak kut teh
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 15 minutes


  • 1 whole rack of spare ribs, cut into 5cm (2 inch) pieces
  • 750g (1 lb.) pork belly, cut into bite sized pieces, skin removed
  • 3 tbsp white peppercorns
  • 2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 3 star anise
  • 1 x 7.5cm (3 inch) cinnamon or cassia stick
  • 15 cloves garlic, lightly crushed
  • 5 dried shitake mushrooms, quartered
  • 225g (1/2 lb.) tofu puffs (see page 00)
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce (or to taste)
  • Red bird’s eye chillies, finely chopped
  • Light soy sauce


  1. Coarsely grind the black and white peppercorns in a pestle and mortar or spice grinder. Place the ground pepper on top of a clean moulin with the star anise and cinnamon and tie it really tightly so that the spices can’t escape. Set aside.
  2. Cover the pork ribs and pork belly in a large saucepan with water and bring to a boil over high heat. After 10 minutes of boiling, strain the pork into a colander and wash off any blood or impurities.
  3. Wipe the pot clean and return the pork with 2 1/2 litres (10 cups) water to the pot and place over high heat. Bring to a simmer and reduce the heat some to simmer lightly for 10 minutes. Scoop off any foam that rises to the top.
  4. Place the spices in the pot along with the garlic and simmer lightly , covered for 30 minutes. Then stir in the dried shitake mushrooms and tofu puffs and continue simmering, covered for about 30 to 45 more minutes or until the pork is really tender.
  5. Add the soy sauce and fish sauce. I suggest adding these to taste. Divide between 4 soup bowls. If you want to eat this hakken style, be sure to serve it with lots of white rice and chilli soy sauce.
  6. To make the chilli soy sauce, simply pour some light soy sauce into 4 small dipping bowls and add finely chopped red chillies to taste to each.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 354Total Fat: 22gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 73mgSodium: 1948mgCarbohydrates: 22gFiber: 3gSugar: 10gProtein: 19g

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