Pork Rib In Chinese Tea? – Spice Bakuteh (Bak Kut Teh) (香料肉骨茶)




This is a long awaited post. I have prepared this dish at least 1-2 months ago.


One day during marketing, I walked into a nearby Chinese herb shop. I asked them, without any positive answer from the shop owner, if he was selling any herbs for the famous Bakuteh or pork rib tea (肉骨茶)。 The next question he asked me was whether we are consuming it for “fun” or for its medicinal value ….


Hmmm, as I am unsure about the medical condition of all the members in the family. I told him that it is for fun and I asked him what were the differences. He said, if it is consumed casually, it will be mostly spice based….


I asked for a small pack from him and he started to open his drawers, taking bit of this and bit of that…. And I am more than happy when he told me it cost SGD 1.oo and adequate to cook for a meal of 4-5 adults with about 1 kg of pork ribs.. I reverted back to the wet market and bought the pork ribs. I cooked and I am extremely pleased with the flavour of the spice mix.


Back home before I cooked, I analysed the spice mix.. It is just simple, normal spice commonly found in the kitchen, But it became a wonderful combination when putting all together and blends well with the meat broth… However, for the quantities, I do have a difficulty to quantify for you, in the ingredients section, you can have a look the detail picture of each of the 9 spices. It will be an estimated quantity and the taste will not be far my illustration.. Possibly you can show the medical hall the picture and asked them to mix for you… Hmmm, it shouldn’t be an expensive buy because the common spice are not costly and quantity are very small.


One advantage of this post is that with this recipe, you can easily prepare Bakuteh in your country of residence if you can’t get hold of ready made Bakuteh. It is rather safe for consumption as there were no Chinese herbs such as Danggui, ginseng and etc.


As per Wikipedia:

“Bak-kut-teh (also spelt bah-kut-teh; Chinese: 肉骨茶; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: bah-kut-tê) is a Chinese soup popularly served in Malaysia,Singapore,(where there is a predominant Hoklo and Teochew community) and also, neighbouring areas like Riau Islands and Southern Thailand.

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.[1] Despite its name, there is in fact no tea in the dish itself; the name refers to a strong oolong Chinese tea which is usually served alongside the soup in the belief that it dilutes or dissolves the copious amount of fat consumed in this pork-laden dish.”



Servings: About 4-6 adult servings



  • Star anise (八角)- (about 5)
  • Peppercorns (花椒)(about 2 teaspoons)
  • White Pepper (胡椒)(about 2 teaspoons)
  • Clove (丁香)(about 10)
  • Fennel(小茴)(about 1 teaspoon)
  • Cinnamon (桂皮)(about 2)
  • Dried ginger (干姜)(about 3)
  • Liquorice (甘草)(about 2)
  • Dried tangerine peel (果皮)(about 2)

Only estimated quantities will be stated here. It was all a small pinch/teaspoon of spices as stated in the picture.


  • 500 grams of pork ribs
  • 3 whole garlics with skin on
  • 1 spice pack as in the above picture
  • 5 tofu puff
  • 1 can of button mushrooms (optional)
  • 10 winter mushroom (soaked)
  • 1 bundle of green vegetables such as chrysanthemum green (茼蒿) or lettuce (生菜)
  • 1 can of braised peanuts (optional)
  • Few sticks of Chinese you tiao




  • Put all the spices in a soup bag and set aside for later use.
  • Blanch the pork rib in a pot of water for 2-3 minutes until there is no blood water. Throw away the water, wash the blanched pork rib under the running water. Transfer the meat to a pressure cooker pot. Add in the whole garlic, canned button mushrooms, soaked winter mushrooms, spice mix bag,



  • Add in 1-2 litres of water (depending on your preference) and cooked in the pressure cooker for one cycle under the meat function or until the meat is soft. You can also use the RICE COOKER soup function if you have. Alternatively, you can cook over the stove until the meat is soft. Once ready, add in seasonings to taste (suggested: light soya sauce, salt and sugar or your preferred seasonings )

  • For making tofu puff, dish out the pork ribs, put in tofu puff and cook for about 10 minutes until it is soft. As for the vegetables, clean the vegetables, put on the serving bowls, pour in the vegetable dish is ready.



I am rather surprised that these simple, cheap spices yield a bowl of awesome bakuteh soup. Of course, do not compare with the ready made spice pack, even every brand have their different trade secret spices packed and sell to you. Therefore, it is almost impossible to get the exact taste you are familiar..


May be you want give it a try and see if it suits your taste buds.


Hope you like the post today. Cheers and have a nice day.


  • For more recipes, you can refer to my RECIPE INDEX (updated as at 21 March 2014)  here and you can follow me at PINTEREST or visit the blog’s FACEBOOK PAGE to keep abreast of my future posts.