Food: Pork Rib Tea (Bak Kut Teh)

June 14, 2015 Leave a comment


Pork Rib Tea in Singapore is really a soup made from Pork ribs, and simmered forever and forever on a slow fire. Google it and you’ll see folks in Singapore and Malaysia waxing lyrical about it.

I wanted to make this to see if I could. After all, it’s just pork, garlic, peppercorns and water. Easy enough. Not quite.

Bones make the soup. Remember it!

You’ll see why in a bit.

This recipe was mashed-up from Chinese Soup Pot | Daily Cook Quest | Makansutra | Pee Por
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Pork Rib Tea

Preparation Time

2 hours 45 min

You’ll Need These Ingredients

  • 1.5 kg of Pork Ribs
  • 2 cups of garlic
  • 1/3 cup of white peppercorns
  • A bunch of herbs (see below)
  • 2 tablespoon Salt
  • 5L of Water
  • Add ons: Beancurd Skin and Tao Pok

The Missing Ingredients

  • 1 kg of Pork bones
  • Prime ribs


Top Left: 1.5 kg of Pork Ribs
Top Right: Peppercorns
Bottom Left: Herbs
Bottom Right: Herb names
Bottom: Garlic

Instructions and “Did it Work?”

1. Scald the Pork Ribs

Bring a pot of water to a boil and dump your ribs in it. Leave it for 5 minutes or so.

You’ll find that there will brown gunk floating on the water. That’s blood from the ribs and we want to get rid of it to get a (relatively) clear soup.


Once blanched, extract and rinse under water.


2. Roast the Garlic and Peppercorns

Roast them with the shells. For peppercorns, smash it up a little so that you’ll get a bit of powder too. I did this to break down the flavours and give soup a wok-ky taste.

Tip: When roasting, start bringing a pot of water to boil. It’ll take some time.


Black bits are OK!


3. Boil and Simmer!

The easiest part.

Chuck garlic, peppercorns, herbs into the pot first and let them simmer for 10 minutes.


Then in go the pork ribs.

Bring to a roiling boil for 10 minutes and let simmer for 2 hours. Turn off the heat, let stand and heat up before serving.


4. Serve with Add-ons

Before serving, add whatever you want. Serve in a bowl with chilli-soy sauce.


Wending Verdict on Bak Kut Teh

It’s full of aroma from the spices and herbs. And the pork slides off the bones like butter on a hot knife.

However, the soup was thin on mouth feel. That’s why pork bones would make the difference in making all so thick and hearty.

Also, cut back on the peppercorns to 1/4 cup. Otherwise, it’ll overpower the soup with peppery pepperness.

Lessons: always make stock.


Story #1: Food

June 5, 2015 Leave a comment


Table for 12, sat by one. Day in, day out.


“Lonely Dinner Table” by Dan Krusi

Stories Under 10 words

Inspired by Hemmingway’s 6-word story “For Sale: baby shoes, never worn”.
More Short Shorts at
Six Word Stories 

Categories: Stories Tags: ,

Food Experiment #9: Beef Balls Dim Sum (牛肉圆)

June 4, 2015 Leave a comment


I’ve never really done up a Chinese dish. Today, I’ve decided to make one of my favourite Dim Sum dishes — Steamed Beef Ball Dim Sum (original recipe from sybaritica).

It’s an utterly Cantonese dim sum (almost on par with Siew Mai and Har Gow) that is available in any Cantonese restaurant worth its salt, soups and Spring Onions.

‘Nuff said. Onwards to balls.

You’ll Need These Ingredients

  • 500g of minced beef
  • 1 tablespoon of Oyster Sauce
  • 1 1/2 slices of Ginger
  • 1 Scallion/Spring Onion
  • 2 1/2 Dried Orange Peel
  • 1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 2 tablespoon Cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 tablespoon Sugar
  • Base: Spinach & Beancurd Skin (soak the Beancurd Skin until soft)

P_20150531_212311 P_20150531_212752

P_20150531_211917 P_20150531_212703

Top Left: Dried Orange Peel & Ginger Slice
Top Right: Minced Beef & Baking Powder
Bottom Left: Salt, Sugar, Cornstarch
Bottom Right: Spring Onion

Instructions and “Did it Work?”

1. Prep the Beef, Chop it All up

Mix the Beef with Baking Powder. Leave the mix alone while you mince up anything and everything that can be minced (see picture below).

This will take some time to do up. Best to use a sharp knife and a flat chopping board.

I just got a Zweig Kitchen Knife. And damnit, that stainless steel beast sliced through everything as if it were soft butter!


2. Put Everything Together

Mix it all up and until sticky. I do it by hand. Grab, fold over, and rotate the bowl so that it goes in one direction. I do this for 50 to 100 times. The more, the merrier, the better integrated.


Once the meat and ingredients are incorporated together.

I pick it up and slam it back into the bowl. This breaks down the meat to give it bounce – like an actual ball. Do it for 10 times or more. Eventually you’ll get a meat ball that will not stick to the sides of the bowl.


3. Prep for Steaming

Layer a deep dish with the Spinach and Beancurd Skin. I tear them into hand-sized bits and toss them around to spread it out evenly.

Take the meat chunk and shape meatballs (whatever size you fancy) and put them onto the base like so…


If you have a bamboo steamer, use it!

4. Steam for 35 min Over High Heat

Just leave it until the bell dings!



Remove from steamer and serve immediately. Like all Dim Sum, it’s best when piping hot.

5. Eat!

As you can see, the inside of the beef ball is still red. This is OK.

Texture-wise, the ball is bouncy and firm to bite. Surprisingly, it’s not overly sweet and the dried Orange Peel makes it quite fragrant. There are slightly bitter undertones and it’s nicely moist too. The Spinach & Beancurd Skin base didn’t enhance the beef balls much. Perhaps it needs some sauce or Worchestershire to go with it?



It works!

Tokyo Roar: Beautifully Shot & Filmed

June 3, 2015 4 comments

Oh damn.


This is an amazingly composed film – from the silent shots to crazy products on the shelf. I love how the Japanese gravitas and silence permeates Tom O’Bedlam’s spoken narrative.

And it shows Japan in a particularly mystical light. One that doesn’t lift with the morning rays of light.


Best watched for those with Tokyo plans – now or future.

Tokyo Roar from Brandon Li on Vimeo.

Categories: Explore, Travel Tags: , ,

Sweden, a river 20km from Umeå

June 2, 2015 Leave a comment

I wished I was back there again.



Sweden, a river 20km from Umeå

Categories: Explore Tags: , ,

Phuket: Full Moon BrewWork

June 1, 2015 Leave a comment

In Phuket for a company retreat/value setting session.

The session was so-so. The food rather disappointing – unless I walked out to the street. But for some strange reason, they were far and few in between.

Nevertheless, there’s beer! Not the usual Singha, Chang lagers, but tasty microbrews just a stone’s throw from Bangla Road.

The Beer…

Wild Honey Coffee Stout

Oatmeal smooth with strong chocolate notes. Didn’t taste too much of the honey but I guess that’s the priming sugar uses in making the beer. I’m actually surprised by the “coffeeness” of the stout – for some reason, Thai coffee has never struck me as good.

But this beer, well it works.


Best paired with…

Nham Spare Ribs

Grilled Issan style. Anything done that way is great with beers. The best parts of the spare ribs come from chewing on the crunchy connective tissue (pleural) while swishing a good glug of beer.


Weird? Give it a go first before you pan it. Smile


Full Moon BrewWork

193 Unit #2110, 2210 Raj-u-thit 200 Pee Road, Patong, Kathu,
Phuket, THAILAND 83150

Exercise: 25 May to 31 May

May 31, 2015 Leave a comment

One of my goals was to run more. I find running tedious and boring. But nothing beats the after effects (sorry weights!), it’s great for my lungs, and I feel a helluva energised.

But running – like weight-training – should be a mix of types. Hence Slope Runs and Circuit Runs. The former is all about running up and down slopes. The later, a nice jog around the estate.

I adore Slope Runs.


Image from Travelling with Corrie

Benefits of Running Slopes


I find that it makes me stronger and more co-ordinated. And it also helps in my weights sessions. From RunnersWorld:

It strengthens tendons and ligaments, reduces the risk of injury and improves overall running form…

Hill sessions, in contrast, force the muscles in your hips, legs, ankles and feet to contract in a coordinated fashion while supporting your full body weight, just as they have to during normal running. In addition, on uphill sections your muscles contract more powerfully than usual because they are forced to overcome gravity to move you up the hill. The result is more power, which in turn leads to longer, faster running strides.


Power is good. More slopes, please!


Exercise Routine

Objective: Continue Activity.

Poundage: 55kg; 3 sets of 10 as much as possible

Day: Type Weighted Body
1: Rest   Calf Raises
2: Back Row
3: Front Lunges
4: Movement   Dips
Circuit Runs
5: Back Rows
6: Movement   Slope Runs
7: Front Lunges
Hang Cleans


What Next?


More slopes please!

Categories: Exercise, Fitness Tags: ,
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