Thursday, August 21, 2008

Bak Kut Teh

bak kut teh
I didn't realise how much Singaporean/Malaysian food I actually make until I started posting on this blog. Here's last night's offering - Bak Kut Teh. Bak Kut Teh (which is Hokkien for "meat bone tea"), is a Chinese soup made out of various herbs and spices, boiled with pork ribs. If you're interested in reading more about this dish, Wikipedia has a good description here.

As with mostly everything I cook, this can be made really quickly - about 40 minutes, with most of that just boiling time. The one thing you will need, though, is a packet of Bak Kut Teh spices. Without it, it would just be too much work. You can find Bah Kut Teh spice packets in Singaporean and Malaysian supermarkets - check your local Chinese store in other countries to see if they stock it, too... 

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Just follow the instructions on your Bah Kut Teh spice pack. Mine were - boil 1.5L water, add pork ribs, 12 cloves garlic, few drops dark soya sauce and boil everything for 35 minutes. In the meantime, I prepared some rice in the rice cooker, and went about making preparations for the next day's bento lunch. 

Towards the end of the 35 mins cooking time, I added in some mushrooms and also some bak choy (chinese cabbage). Once the bak choy was tender, I scooped it out to serve separately. These added ingredients are optional - you can just leave it as is. Taste the soup and add more soya sauce and pepper if necessary. And that's pretty much it! Serve the Bak Kut Teh with rice, and some chopped fresh red chilli and dark soya sauce. 

Simple Rice Decoration - Mounds of Rice

A fast, simple way of making a meal that includes rice look more fancy is to serve it moulded on your plate like they do in some restaurants. It makes the rice look so much better (compared to a heap of rice on a plate) and only adds a minute or so to prep time (and one more small bowl to wash up), that I usually make this effort.

Take a small bowl, wet it with water, then drain the water out (leaving a few drops inside the bowl), scoop cooked rice into the bowl (up to whatever height you wish) and press down gently but firmly to mould the rice into the shape of the bowl. Turn the bowl upside down onto a plate to unmould the rice, and serve. This works for all rice dishes including fried rice, coconut rice, etc.

Tips: If your mound of rice cracks a little on top, just use your rice scoop or a spoon to press it gently back together. Remember to wet the bowl a little before moulding each mound of rice. The water stops the rice from sticking to the bowl and helps it slide out. If your rice is too dry, the mound may fall apart. Try mixing your rice with a little warm water first to help it stick together.


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