Scrumptious Saturday Vol. 17: As Malaysian as Bak Kut Teh

by Paris B on · 35 comments

in Food & Lifestyle

I was scrolling on Twitter to see what people liked about being Malaysian in view of our National Day yesterday, and the two items that popped up were “good food” and “public holidays”. Ah, you can’t deny there’s a lot of truth there LOL! But speaking of Malaysian food, here’s something quite quintessentially Malaysian and very popular among the Chinese community – Bak Kut Teh or lit. Pork Rib Tea.

Tea? Well, soup rather icon smile Scrumptious Saturday Vol. 17: As Malaysian as Bak Kut Teh

bak kut teh2 Scrumptious Saturday Vol. 17: As Malaysian as Bak Kut Teh

Being a multi-cultural country, this also comes in a more easily accepted chicken version where chicken is substituted for pork.

What this “bak kut teh” is, is a herbal soup base with meat added for flavour. Afficionados will scorn the claypot version you see here, preferring to have their individual bowls of meat and flavoursome soup unadulterated by other flavours.

In a claypot, the soup and your choice of meat and ribs is reheated and then added with soy bean skin, tofu, lettuce and ahem… spare parts icon wink Scrumptious Saturday Vol. 17: As Malaysian as Bak Kut Teh A good bak kut teh soup is robust with a Chinese herb flavour to the soup and it is a commonly accepted fact that the best bak kut teh shops are located in Klang – a town about 30 minutes drive from KL city centre.

Like all food, there are many variations to this dish. Some don’t include too much herbs so the taste and flavour of the herbs is more of a hint than a full on explosion of flavours. Others prefer a thicker, meatier, stronger tasting soup.

bak kut teh Scrumptious Saturday Vol. 17: As Malaysian as Bak Kut Teh

I don’t eat this a lot – like everything yummy, its not the healthiest food in the world icon razz Scrumptious Saturday Vol. 17: As Malaysian as Bak Kut Teh – but I do enjoy the occasional indulgence. My personal preference is for the thick robust herbal soups and when I do get the craving, I make the 30 minute drive to Klang to enjoy this. I eat this so rarely, the journey is worth it icon wink Scrumptious Saturday Vol. 17: As Malaysian as Bak Kut Teh

You could of course cook this at home. There are many brands of prepacked soup base mixes sold in the supermarkets. As a student, I used to bring some prepacked soup mixes that you could just boil up and add your own ingredients to simulate a taste of home. My friends and I would invariably turn it into a hot pot because we would always go overboard. Perfect on cold winter evenings! icon biggrin Scrumptious Saturday Vol. 17: As Malaysian as Bak Kut Teh Never quite tastes the same, but it was good enough.

Oh and lest you think this is something available for lunch, its not quite. People here eat this for breakfast (!!) from as early as 7am, paired with rice and chinese tea to wash it all down. Popular shops or stalls will see crowds and queues form from early morning till lunch time, where you hover over tables like a hawk, waiting to swoop in the moment the occupants start to leave. Verily, nothing gets between a Malaysian and their love for food icon razz Scrumptious Saturday Vol. 17: As Malaysian as Bak Kut Teh

Do you enjoy eating Bak Kut Teh? If you aren’t based in Malaysia, have you ever eaten this dish?

I don’t know if restaurants overseas serve this. Many will serve the ubiquitious Malaysian Nasi Lemak or Satay but if you do know of a good restaurant that does this where you are, do share! Also, I usually go to the Teluk Pulai shop just outside Klang town but naturally, if you have a fave bak kut teh stall/shop please share too – I’d love to explore icon wink Scrumptious Saturday Vol. 17: As Malaysian as Bak Kut Teh

Paris B

Scrumptious Saturday: One day of the week where I indulge in my other love – Food! It will feature my cooking experiments or eating and travel adventures

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[ 35 comments… read them below or join the discussion ]

germs September 1, 2012 at 8:40 am

oh Paris you’re making me so hungry right now! i *love* this version with a strong herbal base, and it’s not complete without all the innards (slurp). i prefer the herbal ones to the white peppery kind, which to me just isn’t satisfying enough :) i find it amazing how people can eat this for breakfast though – always felt like a lunch / dinner meal to me because it’s so heavy.

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Paris B
Twitter:
September 1, 2012 at 5:37 pm

Haha I don’t know about the peppery kind, but I hear that’s quite popular in Singapore. The ones here are either thick and robust with herbal flavour, or thin with lighter herbal flavour. I don’t know how people eat this for breakfast too, but it happens! Iron stomachs! :P

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Jenn
Twitter:
September 1, 2012 at 8:41 am

I love bak kut teh!! :D And like you, i prefer my soup thick and super herbal! Haha!! :D And oh, I must have ALOT of raw garlic with my bak kut teh, I won’t eat it otherwise! Hehehe! :D

I always order yam rice instead of normal rice too… the flavours together are just awesome. Gosh I’m craving for bak kut teh now… at 8.41am in the morning T_T
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Paris B
Twitter:
September 1, 2012 at 5:38 pm

LOL I better not go near you after a meal of bkt! ;) I like mine with yam rice too! Most places in Klang don’t serve yam rice though. They serve a savoury rice cooked with shallots and salt so its tasty too. But yes, if there’s a yam rice option, I definitely go for yam mmm…..

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Applegal September 1, 2012 at 8:48 am

I like BKT too, but I can’t really eat it now cuz my fiance doesn’t eat fatty pork. He’s been asking for the chik kut teh version but so far I can’t find any. I had a feeling they introduced chik kut teh during the JE scare, and they don’t serve that anymore these days!

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Paris B
Twitter:
September 1, 2012 at 5:40 pm

I’ve seen the chikuteh version in some malls but I think its just not popular because it doesn’t taste the same. Can always opt for lean meat in your soup? That’s usually what I opt for although the sellers will make a face at me and tell me its not as good :P

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peach_ September 1, 2012 at 9:14 am

Mmm, I wouldn’t mind that for breakfast! :D I’ve never had BKT but I looove herbal soups so I’m sure I’ll like this. Wonder where I could get some authentic Malaysian food…
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Paris B
Twitter:
September 1, 2012 at 5:42 pm

If you are ever in the country, you know what to look for to eat! :) I don’t even think there are any Malaysian restaurants in Japan, are there? The food is probably too fatty and oily for Japanese LOL!

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Jacqueline September 1, 2012 at 10:21 am

I love to add salted vegetables and kidneys to my Bak Kut Teh and nope I don’t like mine to be too herbally but I love mine peppery. Ah you are making me hungry now. :)

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Paris B
Twitter:
September 1, 2012 at 5:44 pm

Hmm… salted veges is new to me! Its going to be interesting to try BKT in Singapore :D

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Lisa September 2, 2012 at 1:12 am

There’s also dough fritters (you tiao) to complement the tea and soup. Malaysia’s version has this? I don’t understand how you tiao, rice, soup, tea all goes together. But it does here. I do love the clear white, peppery soup version and the mildly dark sauce versions here. But frankly, i only really love the soup and not so much of the meat. I like your version with veggies in it.
I remember many, many years ago when there was the swine flu, they substitute the pork for duck.

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Paris B
Twitter:
September 3, 2012 at 7:05 pm

Oh yes, you tiao is a must :D They ran out the day I was there so no photos LOL! I haven’t tried the peppery version. Our version of peppery soup is the pig stomach soup which I also love! But maybe not terribly kosher LOL! Over here, they substituted chicken for pork – didn’t quite catch on though.

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Hanny Daforcena
Twitter:
September 1, 2012 at 10:28 am

I LOVE BAK KUT TEH! There was this one time when I only ate the spare parts and the lean meat hah hah, but am most likely to slurp everything down, save the foo pei (Soy Bean Skin) ^.^

My fave BKT place is the one in Taman Berkeley. Heh heh heh.
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Paris B
Twitter:
September 1, 2012 at 5:45 pm

Haha I take everything except the tau pok and the lettuce :P I sometimes prefer the non claypot version because the soup tastes less adulterated (and I don’t have to share HAHA!) I’ve heard of the Taman Berkeley one – very famous but I have no idea how to get there :P

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Lily
Twitter:
September 1, 2012 at 10:49 am

Oh there’s a famous one in Ipoh but they say it tastes different from the Klang bkt. I haven’t tried klang bkt so i can’t comment. I love this as an occasional indulgence, and i must have raw garlic, cili padi and thick black sauce. Drools!
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Paris B
Twitter:
September 1, 2012 at 5:45 pm

Ahhh cili padi and black sauce is a MUST for me too! :D Some day I have to make a food trip up to Ipoh eh? :P

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Lily
Twitter:
September 1, 2012 at 6:11 pm

Definitely! There are so many good food, a weekend is NOT enough for you to sample all. So, I guess you’ll have to make a Few trips ;-)
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Paris B
Twitter:
September 3, 2012 at 6:57 pm

Hmm… Ipoh isn’t too far away! :D

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Pui Ee September 1, 2012 at 11:13 am

I love to have BKT in Teluk Pulai as well! I had it once here in Tianjin at a golf club. It’s just weird having BKT in such a posh setting! Hahaha!

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Paris B
Twitter:
September 1, 2012 at 5:46 pm

*high5 for Teluk Pulai!* And they served BKT in Tianjin? As in China? Wow! :D

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Becca
Twitter:
September 1, 2012 at 5:51 pm

Oooooohmygosh this looks amazing. WANT this in my tummy NOW!!!
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Paris B
Twitter:
September 3, 2012 at 6:54 pm

*packs up a box to fedex* I hope customs doesn’t confiscate this :P

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Marina(Makeup4all) September 1, 2012 at 6:52 pm

It’s a shame that I don’t like pork, otherwise, I’d be excited to try!
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Paris B
Twitter:
September 3, 2012 at 6:57 pm

They do a chicken version too! Same herbs different meat :D

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Pui Ee September 1, 2012 at 8:45 pm

Yeah, they used to have it here… But it just don’t taste the same… I think no one can do the Teluk Pulai taste…m so craving for some now… Sigh!

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Paris B
Twitter:
September 3, 2012 at 6:58 pm

Ahh I see… are you in China then? (That’s pretty cool btw ;) ) Time to have BKT the next time you’re here :D

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Ling
Twitter:
September 1, 2012 at 9:51 pm

Salivating!!!!!! I first tried BKT in Malaysia and it tastes the best in Malaysia! Rich herbal taste – lovely and warm…. oooh…would love to eat some NOW!!
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Paris B
Twitter:
September 3, 2012 at 6:59 pm

You described it to a T! Its not available this way anywhere else which makes it quite uniquely Malaysian :D

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jk September 1, 2012 at 11:04 pm

BKT purists might scorn the franchise version of BKT available in malls. The one 2 doors away from Brozeit at the Boulevard stretch/Mid Valley (cannot remember the exact name of the place) is pretty decent and conveniently central enough to satisfy desperate cravings during lunch or dinner. Each select of meat/spare part/tow fu pok/yau cha kwei (chinese cruellers)/etc comes in separate bowls so each bowl’s broth bears a different taste. And it comes with shallot oil rice.
For the more conventional BKT in claypot – there one in Salak South (opposite the police station – and the yam/shallot rice is mmm) and another one in Kepong (near FRIM). Both absolutely de-lish.

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Paris B
Twitter:
September 3, 2012 at 7:03 pm

Ah thanks for reminding me of the mall franchises JK :) You are right, they satisfy the craving in a pinch. I haven’t tried that one in MV though so I will the next time I’m there! Will also bear your other recs in mind. Never know when I might be in either area ;)

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beetrice
Twitter:
September 3, 2012 at 11:27 am

Have not eaten BKT for a long time and refuse to eat the SG version (which just doesn’t have the same robust flavour!). One of the places I loved to go to is in SS14 Subang – if I remember correctly it was called Yu Kee…yums!
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Paris B
Twitter:
September 3, 2012 at 10:20 pm

I’m told the SG version is more like our pork stomach soup? I think I recall the one in SS14. Went there a few times when I was still living in the area :)

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Ting September 3, 2012 at 10:30 pm

Girls, if you want to make at home (which you really don’t have to as you can just drive to Klang for the best bak kut teh, you lucky lots!), you won’t be disappointed with the packets from A1 or Eu Yan Sang. Hell, in Bangkok they used A1 and they open bak kut Teh business… Which is the reason I NEVER visit the restaurant because I cook it at home. Why bother? :p

Seeing your post, I’m really missing home now… :( will try to find if there’s any bak kut Teh herbal packets lurking in the dark corner of my kitchen cupboard tomorrow. :)

And again, thanks for blogging about malaysian food sometimes. Makes me happy and hungry… Hahahahaha

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Paris B
Twitter:
September 3, 2012 at 10:38 pm

I used to use the A1 ones as a student! :D sometimes, making it at home can make sense because we will make it more healthy (and I can’t believe there’s a restaurant that actually uses prepacked BKT mix?!?! Must avoid :P ) I guess you’ll find yourself indulging in a lovely bowl of BKT the next time you’re back? ;) I love Malaysian food and I love sharing it. Will share more as they come (trying not to overdo it lol!)

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Mrs Top Monkey September 15, 2012 at 9:18 am

If we ever have to move abroad again, I’m going to take a CARTON of the ready-made BKT sachets with me. What a good thing the hubby hates it – more for me! YUMMY!

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