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Buk Kuk Teh A Taste Uniquely Chinese
Bak Kut Teh or Pork Bone Tea is a Chinese herbal-soup dish of pork ribs brewed with traditional Chinese herbs such as dong guai, cinnamon, cloves, garlic and star anise. When infused over a few hours of slow, patient boiling, a distinct evocative scent pervades the air while a sweet herbal, earthy flavor awaits to tempt the palate. Best cooked and served in clay pot and eaten with plain white rice, stir-fried vegetables, yau char kway (Chinese crullers), freshly chopped garlic, tofu puffs and a small plate of chili-soy sauce condiment, bak kut teh makes for a true culinary delight second-to-none. Interestingly, the interplay of these herbs, spices, and ingredients makes the broth taste even better the next morning.
The meat portion of bak kut teh consists of different cuts of pork meat simmered in the herb-based broth for hours. Most shops will normally use pork ribs, but they are also known to include other cuts. These tend to be softer and more delicate. The meat becomes infused with all the flavours from the herbs and spices, and the sweetness from the meat itself seeps into the broth, mellowing the taste of the herbs.
To be sure, there are numerous variants of bak kut teh available, their cooking styles being closely influenced by the prevailing Chinese community within a particular geographical area. But, regardless of locality and variety, the origin of this delicacy is still widely believed to be Klang. In fact, to envisage Klang without its bak kut teh origins is to deprive it of its history, its soul and identity.
Klang, de facto, is the king of bak kut teh in Malaysia. No other precinct in the country can boast of having several hundreds of bak kut teh outlets within its confines the way Klang does;
this makes Klang the town to beat when it comes to this exceptional and unique porky delicacy. A name in Klang incomparably famous for dishing out “bak kut teh under the bridge” is Seng Huat Restaurant; a name rendered hugely popular by association with its obvious location just beneath a pedestrian bridge in the heart of the old quarters of Klang town. Essentially, “bak kut teh under the bridge”, in and of itself, has a history of more than 60 years in the running.
It is fascinating to see how a simple dish like this became a famous and widely eaten staple in Malaysia. This dish was supposed to be a nourishing staple for Chinese coolies who came to Port Klang to work during the British colonial era. Herbs and spices thought to be good for health became the vital ingredients, while pork was added to flavour the broth, resulting in this dish now widely known as none other than bak kut teh.