Latest Stories


Bak kut teh–Singaporean comfort soup


DUSIT Thani Hotel’s Bak Kut Teh

If we Filipinos have our bulalo, then Singaporeans and Malaysians have their Bak Kut Teh.

Just like bulalo, Bak Kut Teh is comfort food, a soup to savor on rainy days such as the ones we’ve been having for the past two weeks. The difference is that while bulalo uses beef, Bak Kut Teh is made with pork ribs slowly simmered in a broth enriched with an enticing blend of herbs and spices.

It’s said that Bak Kut Teh was brought to Singapore and Malaysia by the Chinese workers from Fujian and Canton provinces, whereupon it soon evolved into the dish we know today.

In honor of Singapore National Day, which is being celebrated today, Dusit Thani Hotel in Makati is including some of Singapore’s most loved dishes in the lunch and dinner buffet of its Basix All-Day Dining Restaurant.

Aside from Bak Kut Teh, executive sous chef Liew Tian Heong of Meritus Mandarin Orchard Hotel in Singapore, is preparing Hainanese chicken, chili crabs, the spicy laksa noodles, prawn fried Hokkien noodles and an array of desserts.

Holder of the title Gold Winner Hospitality Asia Platinum Award Master Chef-Asian Cuisine, chef Liew is a veteran of food festivals, having promoted Singaporean cuisine in various countries before coming to the Philippines.

Here’s a recipe for Bak Kut Teh, tender pork ribs in a broth infused with the haunting flavors of Oriental herbs and spices.

(Singaporean cuisine is being served as part of the lunch and dinner buffet of Basix Restaurant in Dusit Thani Hotel Makati until Aug. 16. For reservations, call 2388888.)

Bak Kut Teh

1 k pork ribs, sliced into 2-inch pcs

16 c water, divided

4 whole cloves garlic

1 onion, sliced

2 pcs cinnamon barks or cinnamon sticks

2 pods of star anise

2 tsp cloves

2 tbsp black peppercorns

3 tbsp soy sauce

1 bunch wansuy (coriander) leaves

2 siling labuyo (bird’s eye chilies)

For the chili sauce:

¼ c soy sauce

1 red finger chili, seeded and diced

Wash spareribs well. Put ribs in a large cooking pot and add four cups of the water. Bring to a boil. Let boil for 10 minutes, then remove spareribs from the pot and discard water.

Wipe the pot clean with paper towels. Return ribs to the pot and add the remaining 12 cups water, plus the garlic, onion, cinnamon, star anise, cloves, peppercorns and soy sauce.

Bring to a boil then lower heat to a simmer. Let simmer until ribs are tender, around one hour to 1 ½ hours.

Add the coriander leaves and bird’s eye chilies, if desired. Heat through about 1 minute. Serve piping hot with the chili sauce.

To make chili sauce: Combine soy sauce and the diced red finger chili.

For more tips, recipes and stories, visit author’s blog: www.normachikiamco.com and Facebook fan page: www.facebook.com/normachikiamco. Follow on Twitter@NormaChikiamco

Cook’s tips

To make preparation easier, when you buy the ribs, have the butcher slice the ribs for you in two-inch portions.

If you can’t find cloves (which can be difficult to find), just omit them.

When bringing the water to a boil, cover the pot so the water boils faster. Then remove cover and lower heat to a simmer (low heat).

If desired, after the Bak Kut Teh has been cooked, remove the pork ribs from the broth and slice the meat into bite-size pieces. Return the meat to the broth before serving.

Be careful when removing the seeds from the chili. The seeds contain a substance that can burn the skin. Wash hands very well after touching the chili.

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Bak Kut Teh , bulalo , Food , Malaysians , Singaporean soup

  • foodtrip

    the best known and authentic bah kuh teh is at klang selangor malaysia, not necessary pork ribs only, even they have an intestines which they layered together, they added assorted of chinese herbs, and they included tendons too….that is bah kuh teh…..

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/OIDNPIHRQWU6ACDTT2ACOD5FBM j h

    stoopid writer – bakkutteh is malaysian.  yes they also serve this in sing but its malaysian

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_KMUR42KD5AJ5N3HKKCMIXWTBOM STTC

      you read again fool. 

      “If we Filipinos have our bulalo, then Singaporeans AND Malaysians have their Bak Kut Teh.” 

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/OIDNPIHRQWU6ACDTT2ACOD5FBM j h

        youre really stoopid…read your title. gosh youre unbelievable!

    • juancrossofthe

      both of you are fools…what’s the big deal where it came from? tell the writer and she can correct it…you are making an ant hill to a mountain..

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/OIDNPIHRQWU6ACDTT2ACOD5FBM j h

        you need to travel to malaysia to understand why its important to know where bkt came from. pack your luggage man 

  • miguel29y

    Our very own nilagang baka and Bulalo taste better than Bak Kut Teh. No contest.

  • delpillar

    Bakutteh is the kind of menu in which Malaysians and Singaporeans, especially those 40+ years old spit the bones of the pork ribs, sometimes without using the hands,,,,  just directly from their mouth to top surface the dining table of the food court or restaurants, forming like mountain of garbage plus the saliva.

    Yes, it is yummy but if you sit beside those old fellows spitting the bones, you’ll vomit.

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
  1. How to enjoy Buntod
  2. World bids Gabriel Garcia Marquez ‘Adios’
  3. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  4. ‘Wild West’ Masbate’s pristine marine gems
  5. Kim Atienza: At home with art and design
  6. How Margie Moran-Floirendo keeps her dancer’s body
  7. Life lessons I want to teach my son
  8. Garcia Marquez left unpublished manuscript
  9. Historic Fort Bonifacio tunnel converted into a septic tank
  10. Wanted: Beauty queen with a heart that beats for the environment
  1. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  2. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week break?
  3. Historic Fort Bonifacio tunnel converted into a septic tank
  4. ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  5. Miss America: Don’t suspend teen over prom invite
  6. How Margie Moran-Floirendo keeps her dancer’s body
  7. This is not just a farm
  8. President Quezon was born here–and so was Philippine surfing
  9. Levine designs womenswear with help from fiancee
  10. Clams and garlic, softshell crab risotto–not your usual seafood fare for Holy Week
  1. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  2. Mary Jean Lastimosa is new Miss Universe Philippines
  3. Did Angara ruin Pia Wurtzbach’s chances at Bb. Pilipinas?
  4. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  5. Vinegar test helpful vs cervical cancer
  6. From Jeannie to mom of suicide victim
  7. San Vicente beaches hidden but not for long
  8. Borgy and Georgina are back; others are off–again
  9. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  10. Sen. Angara: I thought Pia Wurtzbach gave a good answer


  • What Went Before: Malacañang allies alleged involvement in pork scam
  • Timeline: Napoles tell-all
  • 12 senators on Napoles ‘pork’ list, says Lacson
  • Napoles surgery in Makati hospital successful
  • Save the queen? Aide takes fall for Enrile, Gigi Reyes
  • Sports

  • Mixers trim Aces; Painters repulse Bolts
  • Donaire junks Garcia as coach, taps father
  • ’Bye Ginebra: No heavy heart this time
  • UAAP board tackles new rules
  • Baguio climb to decide Le Tour de Filipinas
  • Lifestyle

  • The best flavors of summer in one bite, and more
  • Homemade yogurt, bread blended with pizza, even ramen
  • Visiting chefs from Denmark get creative with ‘ube,’ ‘ buko,’ ‘calamansi,’ mangoes
  • Salted baked potatoes
  • A first in a mall: Authentic Greek yogurt–made fresh in front of diners
  • Entertainment

  • Return of ‘Ibong Adarna’
  • Practical Phytos plans his future
  • In love … with acting
  • From prison to the peak of success
  • ‘Asedillo’ location thrives
  • Business

  • This time, BIR goes after florists
  • Philippine Airlines to stop shipment of shark fins
  • PH banks not ready for Asean integration
  • Stocks down on profit-taking
  • Banks allowed to use ‘cloud’
  • Technology

  • ‘Unlimited’ Internet promos not really limitless; lawmakers call for probe
  • Viber releases new design for iPhone, comes to Blackberry 10 for the first time
  • Engineers create a world of difference
  • Bam Aquino becomes Master Splinter’s son after Wiki hack
  • Mark Caguioa lambasts Ginebra teammates on Twitter
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 24, 2014
  • Talking to Janet
  • Respite
  • Bucket list
  • JPII in 1981: walking a tightrope
  • Global Nation

  • PH seeks ‘clearer assurance’ from US
  • China and rivals sign naval pact to ease maritime tensions
  • What Went Before: Manila bus hostage crisis
  • Obama arrives in Tokyo, first stop of 4-nation tour
  • Believe it or not: Filipinos love US more than Yanks