Bah Kut Teh – Sparerib of Malaysia

Bah Kut Teh - Sparerib of Malaysia

Recipe: Bah Kut Teh – Cuisine of Malaysia


  • 1½ lb (680 g) pork spareribs, cut into 2 inch (5 cm) pieces
  • 1 whole bulb garlic, unpeeled and slightly crushed
  • 2 inch (5 cm) ginseng root, peeled and slightly crushed
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 5 star anise
  • 1 tbsp white peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp black peppercorns
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 6 dried shitake mushrooms
  • 6 shallots, finely sliced and fried golden brown (optional)
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Soak dried shitake mushrooms in 240 ml of boiling water to reconstitute, when soft slice into strips; reserve liquid for cooking.
  2. In a stockpot, cover spareribs with cold water, parboil ribs until froth rises to the surface.
  3. Drain, briefly rinse spareribs under cold running water and drain again.
  4. In a casserole pan add the parboiled spare ribs, garlic bulb, ginseng root, shitake mushrooms, reserved liquid and additional water (to cover the meat).
  5. Wrap cinnamon, star anise, white and black peppercorns in cheesecloth, tie with string and add to the pan.
  6. Gradually bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to simmer until pork is very tender, about 45 mins to 1 hr; occasionally skim off fat from the surface.
  7. When the meat is almost falling off the bones; discard spice bag, season with salt and pepper and add dark soy sauce and sugar.

Quick notes

Bah Kut Teh (literally, “spare rib tea”) is a Hokkien specialty. It is an exotic herbal soup spiced with plenty of aromatic spices including star anise, cinnamon, cloves and lots of garlic. It is often served with Chinese doughnuts and goes well with white rice. It usually comes with a small serve of cut red chillies in dark soya sauce or garlic.

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