Vegan Bak Kut Teh (素肉骨茶)

Yields: 2 Servings Difficulty: Easy Prep Time: 10 Mins Cook Time: 1 Hr Total Time: 1 Hr 10 Mins

This vegan bak kut teh is made with shiitake mushrooms, lions mane mushrooms, fresh tofu, defrosted frozen tofu, tofu sticks. You can also make this with any combination of mushroom or soy product or seitan that you have available. Ingredients that will absorb soup flavours like defrosted frozen tofu are the best choices!


Bak kut teh is a Hokkien dish name, directly translated to mean “meat bones tea”. Many people assume this is because of the dark bone broth that is boiled to the darkness of tea. However, the teh actually comes from the name of the original dish creator, Lee Boon Teh.

Imagine this. It is the 1950s. You are a 苦力 coolie or manual labourer who recently arrived at the port of Klang, Malaysia. Work starts while the morning is still cool and dark, and you need a quick and hearty infusion to warm your bones. You visit Lee Boon Teh’s stall where cheap cuts of meat and bone are stewed with Chinese herbs. These Chinese herbs not only make the soup layered and full of flavour, but they also have positive effects on the body such as enriching the circulation of blood and improving organ function.

Alongside this nourishing soup, the coolies would also have a pot of 乌龙茶 oolong tea on the table. The tea cleanses the palate and compliments the strong flavours of the soup.

Vegan bak kut teh herbs used

Honestly, I didn’t do very well with this recipe at all because I got distracted and forgot to take photos of the entire cooking process. I mean, it’s pretty straight forward, but would’ve been nice to show all the herbs. That’s a point to make up for next time!

Most of the herbs used can be found if you visit Traditional Chinese Medicine apothecaries and clinics. It would be best to ask a TCM physician to choose the herb blend based on your physical condition. (Remind them you are vegan, as some TCM components are made from animals.) If getting loose Chinese herbs is inconvenient, you can also buy pre-packaged bak kut teh spices, which makes life much easier!

  • 当归 Dāng guī (Angelica sinensis)
  • 玉竹 Yù zhú (Polygonatum odoratum)
  • 肉桂 Ròu guì (Cinnamomum cassia) Chinese cinnamon bark
  • 枸杞 Gǒuqǐ(Lycii fructus) Goji / wolfberries
  • 川芎 Chuān xiōng (Lingustici wallichii)
  • 大枣 Dà zǎo (Fructus jujubae) Chinese dates
  • 甘草 Zhì gān cǎo (Glycyrrhiae preparata) Chinese liquorice root
  • 党参 Dǎng shēn (Radix codonopsis)
  • 西洋参 Xī yáng shēn (Panax quiquefolium L.) American ginseng
  • 熟地黄 Shú dì huáng (Rehmannia glutinosa)

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0/20 Ingredients
Adjust Servings
  • Herbs


0/6 Instructions
  • Chop your ingredients into large chunks. The garlic does not need to be peeled but you can cut the thick bottom off if you prefer.
  • Get your bak kut teh herbs from a TCM practitioner. Put all the herbs into a herbal bag and seal well.
  • Boil the water in a large pot and throw the herbal pack in. Boil vigorously for 10 minutes.
  • Add the soy sauces, the garlic, the mushrooms, and the tofu sticks, and anything else that can withstand a long stew. Bring the soup back on to boil and then turn the heat down. Leave to simmer for 40 minutes.
  • Add the tofu and defrosted frozen tofu. Let them cook on a simmer for another 10 minutes. Don't let the stew boil too vigorously or the tofu will fall apart. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Serve hot with rice and a small plate of preserved vegetables.


#mushrooms  #tofu  #tofu stick  

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