Dry Bak Kut Teh is made easy by pressure cooking the ribs and then finished cooking in a clay pot. Super delicious and easy to replicate at your very own kitchen!
KLANG DRY BAK KUT TEH
The mention of Klang dry bak kut teh brought me back to the time when I was probably 9 or 10 years old. Our family went for a trip to Klang, Malaysia. We joined the local tour and they brought us to the place where bak kut teh was started. It was a busy place with hardly ever any empty tables there. They are famous for their dry bak kut teh, which I’m sharing in this post. Dry bak kut teh is still made with pork ribs cooked with bak kut teh spices like in the soup version of bak kut teh, and then finished cooking by stir frying ingredients such as dried squid or dried shrimp, dried chili (not used in this recipe, so my kids can eat it), veggies like okra (ladies fingers), and darker seasonings like soy sauce, sweet soy sauce (I use kecap manis), and oyster sauce. It has that Chinese herbal flavor, umami flavor, savory, and hint of sweetness. Unlike the soup version of bak kut teh where it has no umami flavor and stronger taste and aroma of garlic and white peppercorns. I like both versions. The kids seem to be digging the dry version more.
CAN I COOK WITHOUT A CLAY POT?
Oh yes you can. Just use regular pot. Older generation like my grandma or mom prefers clay pot because it cooks food with steady even heat instead of harsh heat that tends to destroy nutrients and flavor of food. If you are not super picky like that, regular pot works just fine. Clay pot can be found in most Asian grocery store or you can also use Japanese Donabe if you can’t find the Chinese clay pot. Either one works just fine.
Ingredients to cook the pork ribs : I use spare ribs (cut into 2-inch pieces), garlic bulb, bak kut teh spice sachet, shiitake mushrooms, soy sauce, kecap manis, oyster sauce, salt
Stir-fry ingredients: onion, garlic, dried shrimp, okra, oyster sauce, kecap manis
THIS RECIPE IS MADE EASY
Instead of boiling the ribs for 45 minutes to an hour sometimes, I pressure cook the ribs in Instant Pot, which only took 15 minutes for it to get really tender and then finish cooking in a clay pot. I feel like it saves me lots of time and I can set and forget and move on with preparing the rest of the stuff when the ribs are cooking. If you don’t own a clay pot, you can even finish cooking using saute function in Instant Pot. Just transfer all the cooked ribs and everything else out and stir fry the rest of the ingredients.
HOW TO MAKE KLANG DRY BAK KUT TEH
The steps shown here are with ribs pressure cooked first and then finished cooking in a clay pot. If you prefer cooking on the stove, the instructions are in the recipe card below too.
1. BLANCH THE PORK RIBS FOR 5 MINUTES
This is to get rid of scums and the “meaty” smell
2. PRESSURE COOK THE RIBS
Place the ribs and all the ingredients for bak kut teh in the inner pot of Instant Pot. Make sure the bak kut teh sachet is submerged in the liquid. Not much liquid is lost while cooking in a pressure cooker and so I don’t cook with whole lots of liquid like you need to when boiling the ribs on the stove
3. 15 MINUTES LATER
Voila! The ribs are tender!
4. TRANSFER THE RIBS AND EVERYTHING ELSE OUT
Save the liquid. My kids actually like those broth and I let them have it on the side for their rice
5. PREHEAT THE CLAY POT (OR REGULAR POT)
6. ADD COOKING OIL AND SAUTE DRIED SHRIMP
Stir fry until really fragrant, about 5 minutes
7. ADD ONION, GARLIC, AND DRIED CHILI (IF USING)
Continue to saute for another 3 minutes
8. ADD OKRA PIECES
Cook for another 3 minutes or until the okra pieces are tender
9. ADD THE RIBS AND OTHER INGREDIENTS BACK
10. ADD OYSTER SAUCE AND KECAP MANIS
11. ADD 1/4 CUP OF THE BROTH FROM COOKING THE RIBS
If you want it drier, just add few tablespoon. Stir to mix. Have a taste. It should be savory with hint of sweetness and umami
12. VOILA! DRY BAK KUT TEH IS READY
That feeling when you are about to reveal something good to your family 😉
And all the “oooohh” and “aahhhh” when the smoke comes out (though I was more stressed out trying to capture the smoke actually lol!)
The smell of this dry bak kut teh is incredible. The aromatic Chinese herbal and umami flavor (well, some calls it stinky, but we love umami). There is already a request for a repeat soon! (hint, my 5-year old!)
For baking/ kueh making: I highly encourage to weigh ingredients with a digital kitchen scale instead of using measuring cups as they are not very accurate especially when it comes to recipe that requires precision.GRAMS TO CUPS CONVERSION (UNSIFTED)
Bak kut teh ingredients:
- 6 dried chili - optional (I didn't use)
- 1 Tbsp cooking oil
- 20 gr dried shrimp
- 1 large onion - peeled and roughly chopped
- 5 cloves garlic - finely chopped
- 15 okra (lady fingers) - cut into 3 pieces at an angle
- 1 Tbsp oyster sauce
- 1 tsp kecap manis
- 1/4 cup broth from cooking pork ribs - less if you want it drier
- 1 stalk green onion - finely chopped
- Fresh cilantro leaves
- Soak shitake mushrooms in warm water for 30 minutes. I like to use the soaking water later, but you can actually skip the soaking and place directly in the pressure cooker. Soak dried shrimp in warm water in a separate bowl for 15 minutes until soft. Discard liquid and rinse a few times with clean water
Prepare the pork ribs:
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pork ribs and boil for 5 minutes. Discard water and rinse pork ribs with clean running water
Pressure cook the pork ribs (I use Instant Pot):
- Place the pork ribs, shiitake mushrooms and the rest of the ingredients for bak kut teh in the inner pot of instant pot. You don't need lots of liquid when you cook with pressure cooker. Make sure the bak kut teh spice packet is submerged in the liquid
- Close the lid. Turn the steam release valve to seal. Press pressure cooker, make sure it's on high pressure, set timer to 16 minutes
- Release pressure immediately. Remove the pork ribs and mushrooms into a large bowl. Save the liquid. Proceed to either "finish cooking in clay pot" or "finish cooking in Instant Pot" below
Finish cooking in Instant Pot (if you choose not to use clay pot):
- Now the inner pot of Instant Pot is empty. Give it a quick rinse and wipe dry. We will use the saute mode again. Press saute mode to preheat. When it's hot, add cooking oil. Add the dried shrimp and stir friy until really fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, onion, dried chili (if using), and continue to stir fry for another 3 minutes. Add the okra pieces and cook for another 3 minutes or until okra is tender.
- Add the pork ribs and mushrooms to the clay pot followed by oyster sauce and kecap manis. Stir to mix. Add the broth from cooking the ribs. Let it cook for another minute. If you want it drier, just add few tablespoon. Stir to mix. Have a taste. It should be savory with hint of sweetness and umami. Proceed to serving
If cooking in clay pot or regular pot without pressure cooking the ribs first:
- Place the pork ribs, shiitake mushrooms and the rest of the ingredients for bak kut teh in the clay pot or regular pot. Add the liquid from soaking mushrooms and top up to about 1.5 litre with water. Bring to a boil and lower the heat to let it gently simmer for about 45 minutes or until the ribs are tender and liquid has evaporated and almost dry out, but don't let it dry out completely
- Remove the pork ribs and everything else, including the leftover broth from the clay pot into a large bowl. Set aside. GIve the clay pot a rinse and wipe dry. Proceed to "finish cooking in clay pot" step
Finish cooking in clay pot:
- Preheat clay pot over medium to high heat. Add cooking oil. Add the dried shrimp and stir fry until really fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, onion, dried chili (if using), and continue to stir fry for another 3 minutes. Add the okra pieces and cook for another 3 minutes or until okra is tender.
- Add the pork ribs and mushrooms to the clay pot followed by oyster sauce and kecap manis. Stir to mix. Add the broth from cooking the ribs. Let it cook for another minute. If you want it drier, just add few tablespoon. Stir to mix. Have a taste. It should be savory with hint of sweetness and umami
- Remove clay pot from the heat. Garnish with chopped green onion and fresh cilantro leaves. Serve immediately with rice
- Remove the ribs and everything else from the clay pot to another big bowl. Add cooking oil into the clay pot.
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