Bak Ku Teh (Pork Rib Tea Soup)
back ribs, chopped into 2-inch lengths
soy sauce, dark
or to taste
crisp fried flakes
soy sauce, tamari
red chili peppers
thinly sliced, for dipping
Combine the pork, garlic, and water in a large saucepan; bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes. Skim and discard the scum from the surface. Add the cinnamon, star anise, peppercorns, sugar, salt, and soy sauce. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the pork is tender, about 45 minutes. Discard the excess fat from the soup before serving.
Serve the soup in deep bowls with 3 to 4 rib pieces per serving and shallot flakes scattered over the top. Combine soy sauce and chiles to taste in small bowls as a dipping sauce for the ribs.
Serve with cruller slices for dunking into the broth, and a bowl of rice on the side.
Makes 4 to 6 servings.
CRISP FRIED SHALLOT AND GARLIC FLAKES:
Cut 8 shallots or garlic cloves crosswise into ⅛ inch-thick slices; you should have ¾ cup of slices. The slices must all be of equal thickness to assure even cooking. Heat 2 cups of vegetable oil to 300F in a preheated wok, saucepan, or skillet. Add the slices and fry slowly for 3 to 5 minutes or until golden brown and crisp. They should be completely dry with no remaining moisture. Remove with a fine strainer and drain on paper towels. When cool, store in an airtight container. The flakes will keep for several weeks. Makes about ½ cup.