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The Unforgettable Ba Kut Teh of Singapore

Slow Cookers are cheap at BigW. Contempo, its exclusive brand, sells a 5.5 liter one just for AUD$29. We picked up 1 and today I'm trying it out with a simple Bak Kuet Teh (meat bone tea) dish, Singapore's  one of a kind pork rib broth specialty . If ever you are in Singapore, you gotta have a bowl of this before you go. A generous couple, friends, treated us to SongFa, a most famous place to have authentic Bak Kuet Teh. People line up there all the time.

photo by pogrepix

There, Ba Kut Teh bowls will get free soup refills as long as you still have meat left (in your bowl) to consume. Servers continually go around, ready to pour more soup whenever you run out.

The lovely pair gifted us a number of packs to bring with us back to Australia. Today I sit by the counter, amused at how easy I've prepared tonight's dish. I just hope I did everything right, 'cause, if there's one thing that's always true about me, it's that I can easily ruin anything at anytime.

Here's the procedure:

  1. Blanch your 1.5 kg pork ribs ( I used 500g pork slices + 1kg baby back US ribs bought at a local butcher at Noosa Civic Shopping Center (24.99/kg) in boiling water with salt & pepper. Discard water.
  2. Place in the slow cooker stoneware. Put 1 big yellow onion (quartered) and 1 whole garlic (skin intact) on top.
  3. Pour in 1.6 liters of water. Open your spice pack. Take out the sachet and place on top.
  4. Cover the slow cooker and put settings to LOW. Leave for 6 hours minimum. 
  5. Some adjustments: I cooked on LOW for 6 hours, then 1 hour on HIGH.  I had to sprinkle salt and pepper a number of times and still it was lacking for some, especially when paired with rice. I would use 2 whole garlic bulbs next time  I do this.
End Result: The Ba Kut Teh meat was very tender.  Some ate the pork bones because it was very much tenderized from the slow cooking process. The soup was tasty as well. The garlic cloves were very soft and flavorful. The broth was darker colored as expected of normal servings. For those who want clearer soups, maybe boil the meat on its own for a while to lose some more fat. The meat I purchased was decently lean, it wasn't too fatty. Still, I ended up with quite an amount of oil in the broth.


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