The Dishes of Malaysia: Bak Kut Teh

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Bak Kut Teh, a traditional Malaysian dish, is a testament to the country’s rich culinary heritage. Its name, when translated, means “meat bone tea,” but don’t be fooled – this dish contains no tea leaves. The ‘tea’ refers to the strong oolong Chinese tea usually served alongside the soup to complement its rich flavours.

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Origins and Variations

Originating from the Fujian province in China, Bak Kut Teh was brought to Malaysia by Chinese immigrants. Over time, it has evolved into two main variations: the herbal, dark soup version commonly found in Klang, and the lighter, peppery version popular in other parts of Malaysia.

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Preparation and Ingredients

The preparation of Bak Kut Teh involves simmering pork ribs in a broth of herbs and spices, including star anise, cinnamon, cloves, dang gui, fennel seeds, and garlic, for several hours. Despite its complex flavours, the dish is often enjoyed for breakfast or lunch, served with rice and youtiao (Chinese doughnuts) for dipping.

Cultural Significance

Bak Kut Teh is more than just a dish in Malaysia; it’s a cultural symbol. It represents the fusion of diverse culinary traditions and is a favourite comfort food for many Malaysians. It’s also a popular dish during festivals and family gatherings, symbolizing unity and togetherness.


In conclusion, Bak Kut Teh is a unique and flavourful dish that embodies the multicultural culinary landscape of Malaysia. Its rich history and diverse variations make it a must-try for any food lover.


Article curated by Suwaytha Gopal