Blanch the pork ribs in a pot of boiling water over high heat for 10 mins. Discard the water and use a small knife to scrape off any blood clots or scum stuck to the pork ribs. Rinse well and set aside.
Toast the white and black pepper in a toaster oven or in a pan for a few minutes until aromatic.
Pound the star anise, white pepper, black pepper, cloves and cinnamon lightly. Place these spices in a small filter bag.
Lightly bruise the garlic with skin on.
Wash the chilli and slice it, then and put in a small bowl. Add 5 TBsp dark soya sauce and 3 TBsp light soya sauce to the bowl as the dipping sauce.
In a large pot, add 1.8 litres of water and bring to a boil over high heat.
Once boiling, add in the blanched pork ribs, salt, dark soy sauce, light soy sauce and the spice mix bag. Simmer for 1hr 15 mins over medium low heat with the lid half-covered.
Add the bruised garlic and continue to simmer for another 15 mins or until the pork ribs are soft. More light and black soya sauce may be added to taste.
When the bak kut teh is almost done, lightly toast the stock-bought you tiao for a few minutes. Then cut the you tiao to bite-size pieces.
Fish out and discard the bag of spices. Serve the bak kut teh with the dipping sauce, you tiao and rice.
DIY your own spice mix with small filter bags from Daiso. They are also great for making ikan bilis stock without having to sieve the stock after cooking!
Or use ready-made spice mix to save time (skip steps 3 and 4).
Always buy old garlic because it is more flavourful. It's larger and is usually sold in individual cloves, whereas young garlic is sold as a whole bulb! Old garlic won’t turn green like young garlic does after a while.
Remember to get some dough fritters 'you tiao' to go along with this dish
The finer you crush the pepper, the more peppery the soup will be. Adjust according to your preference
Add some pork bones to enhance the sweetness of the soup.
You can replace pork ribs with chicken thighs, but the cooking time should be shortened to 40 minutes as chicken requires less time to cook.
Use fresh pork ribs. Frozen pork ribs tend to be dry and hard after cooking for a long time.
Pork ribs should some fat marbling, so that the meat remains tender after boiling.
In Singapore, pork comes from Indonesian and Australian. Indonesian pork tends to be more tender and sweeter in taste. It is available in the wet markets as well as in some supermarkets which carry fresh Bulan (Indonesian) pork.