The difficulty is to cook either of these dishes will take a considerable effort, let alone both at the same time. On top of that, I also needed a component to simulate the fat cutting properties of drinking chinese tea that comes with eating Bak Kut Teh.
Over the last weekend, I finally endeavored to attempt this potentially world's first Bak Kut Teh Risotto, and it came off really well.
First, to do the Bak Kut Teh, you need to prepare the broth first. To do so, I used pork bones, about 4 prime rib cuts and one strip of pork belly which you can all get from the supermarket.
Char boil all the pork pieces first to remove any skunk and pork odours. In a separate pan, cook about 2 tablespoons of peppercorn until they are fragrant and begin to pop.
|Preparing the Bak Kut Teh broth|
In a large pot, put in all the pork pieces, 10 cloves of garlic and the roasted peppercorn and add sufficient water until they cover the mixture. Bring it to a boil and then let it simmer on a low heat for at least 2 hours.
This is doing a classical Teochew BKT from scratch, and no packet spices or herbs are used. Just pork, garlic and pepper cooked until they are super fragrant and sweet. Once they are about done, season with soy sauce and more pepper if required.
|Tea Poached Apples|
In another pan, boil some water and add in some chinese tea leaves. You can use jasmine, Pu-Er or whatever type of chinese tea leaves you can find. Chop some green apples into slices and add them to the tea mixture. Poach for at least 5 minutes or until the apples are soft.
|Cooking the BKT Risotto|
The last part is cooking the risotto itself. In a pan or a pot, brown some onions with butter until they are soft and caramelized. This will give sweetness to the risotto later. Add in the necessary amount of risotto and let them brown in the pan for a minute or so.
Using a ladle, add in ladle full of the BKT broth each time and let the risotto absorb and reduce the broth. Keep repeating this for about 25 minutes, while stirring the rice continuously.
They should get soft after 20 to 25 minutes, at which time, add a knob of butter and let it melt into the risotto mixture. Keep stirring and cooking until the risotto rice is fully cooked.
To plate, place the risotto in the center and using the pork belly from the BKT broth, cut the pork belly into slices and place them on top of the risotto. You can add a prime rib if you like, but it will be harder to eat on a risotto dish.
Place about 3 apple slices on the side of the plate as an attractive garnish. The apples will act as an acid to help cut through the fat and pork flavors of the BKT risotto and meat.
And there you have it, a world's first Teochew Bak Kut Teh Risotto. It is a perfect mixture of east and west and uses both continents of cooking techniques to accomplish.
If you cook it correctly, there will be slight sweetness in the risotto from the beautifully natural broth, and combined with the apples, it is a perfectly balanced dish that will appeal to both foodies from the East and the West.