Johor Kaki Travels for Food

Singapore based personal blog of true stories by johorkaki@gmail about best food, people & places around the world

Saturday, 17 February 2018

RECIPE Kaki. Cooking Singapore Teochew Peppery Bak Kut Teh with Pressure Cooker


This is the garlicky peppery style of bak kut teh (literally meat bone tea) commonly sold in Singapore. This dish which is very popular with tourists, is relatively simple to replicate at home whether in China, Europe or North America as the ingredients are widely available in supermarkets. It also does not involve any special equipment.



1kg fresh pork ribs, cut into serving size (serves 3-4 adults)
1.5 litres water  
20g black pepper
50g white pepper
20 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon salt

That's all. No MSG or synthetic flavouring. All are natural ingredients easily found in most supermarkets - never off season.

Preparation Steps


P-Step 1 👉 Boil the pork ribs for a 3-4 minutes to cook the residual blood, marrow juices, etc. Throw away the water with all the grease and scum. Rub and rinse the pork ribs with cold running water. Set aside.


P-Step 2 👉 Smack / press the garlic cloves to break the skin and pulp. Peel off and discard the skin.


P-Step 3 👉 Break the black and white peppercorn with a mortar and pestle.



Step 1 👉 Lightly fry the white and black peppercorn till aromatic (use no oil).

Step 2 👉 Lightly fry the garlic till aromatic (use no oil). (🎀Skip this step, if you do not like toasty taste in your soup.)


All the ingredients ready for the pot.


Step 3 👉 Put all the ingredients into the pressure cooker pot. Add 1.5 litres of boiling water, pork ribs and a teaspoon of salt. (Boiling water reduces the time required to get the pot to the required cooking pressure.)


Step 4 👉 Set the electric pressure cooker pot to "Soup". Time - 20 minutes. The electric pressure cooker will build up the pressure inside, and start to count down the 20 minutes after the pot reaches cooking pressure.

Step 5 👉 When done, leave with cover on for a few minutes to release pressure naturally.

Serve hot, with rice, cut chili and dark soy sauce dip.


The bak kut teh lets off a very nice aroma from boiling the peppercorns, garlic and pork together. This lovely aroma fill the air while you are cooking or when you press the pressure release, if you use a pressure cooker

The broth is tea coloured from the black peppercorn. It has a medium body and depth of flavour with some grease on top. The flavour is lovely layers of moderate spiciness from the black & white peppercorn and garlic which lingers a while in the throat and mouth. The pork and garlic impart sweetness to the broth. The teaspoon of salt balances the delicious spicy sweet broth. There is an underlying subtle toasty taste due to frying of the peppercorn and garlic. Together, the flavours are robust - this is not a light tasting soup (despite the simple ingredients).

The meat clinging feebly to the bone is fall-off-the-bone tender with a bit of chew to the bite. I like to use both spare rib and prime rib. I like the cartilage in spare rib which are soft crunchy. I like meat with visceral fat as it is more tender, juicy and sweet. The meat taste naturally sweet with subtle spiciness and sweetness infused from the peppercorn and garlic. (One of the benefits of using a pressure cooker is greater infusion of flavours from soup or sauces into the meat due to pressure.)


🎀 In this dish, the pork has to rely mainly on itself for flavour. So, it is important to use fresh meat that has natural sweetness i.e. not frozen meat.

🎀 Don't fry the black & white pepper and garlic, if you don't like toasty taste in your BKT soup.

🎀 I prefer young garlic for its milder flavour than old garlic. Young or old, choose which you prefer 😄

🎀 If you bag the peppercorn and garlic in a little cloth bag, you will get a clearer soup. (Available at Daiso.)

🎀 You can skim off the grease on the soup's surface before serving.

🎀 You can add more salt to your taste after the bak kut teh is cooked.


🎀 I do not use pre-mix sachets because they are often just pepper and garlic powder plus MSG. (Take a look at the ingredients listed on the pack and you will see.)

👉 It's really not hard to fix your craving for authentic Singapore bak kut teh, wherever you are (almost). This is bak kut teh in its simplest form and it is simply delicious.

Disclaimer: I am not a homebody nor a chef. So when I do cook, it would be dishes which ingredients are easily available, preparation is minimal, cooking is pretty much foolproof, yet taste is delicious 😁

This recipe is inspired by the flavours of Lau Ah Tee Bak Kut Teh 👈 click

More RECIPE Kaki 👈 click

Other styles of bak kut teh 👈 click

Return to Johor Kaki homepage.


  1. hi Tony, happy new year to you. May the year of the dog be a good year for all of us.

    thanks for the post on BKT. Have always wondered what is the pre-packed ingredients. Now i realised it is really that straight forward. One thing though, how do you differentiate between old and young garlic ? think this ingredient is going to make or break the dish for my family given that i have both young children and old folks together under one roof (counting it as my good fortune and that it is a blessing).

    thanks in advance.


    1. Hi Sam,

      Happy New Year to you and family too.

      The pre-packed sachets I was referring to are those sold as "Singapore bak kut teh", not the herbal type (which do have herbs inside).

      Young garlic are often sold as whole heads and are white in colour. Old garlic are usually sold in cloves and are brownish in colour. Old garlic have a smell even with skin on while young garlic only have a smell when you break the skin.

      Thank you.


I share hoping that everyone will have a good time but your experience may differ from mine. I love to know how you enjoyed yourself or if you didn't. All comments with genuine identities are published.