Chick Kut Teh: The Asian chicken soup cure-all

Chick kut teh is a lighter take on the traditional Chinese herbal pork soup. (Gerald Lee pic)

As lovely and healing as chicken soup can be, Chick Kut Teh has more nutritional value.

Traditionally made using pork (Bak Kut Teh), this delicious soup is simmered for hours with a variety of Chinese herbs, including ginseng, goji berries, red dates and Oolong tea, together with a large chunk of meat and some bones, usually pork ribs, until the meat is juicy and tender.

Chick Kut Teh substitutes chicken for pork and the result is a fragrant, sweet and flavourful soup that makes one all warm and fuzzy inside.



  • 1.8 litres of water
  • 2 packets of pre-packed Bak Kut Teh herbs
  • 450 g of chicken, cut into pieces
  • 6 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked and cut into half
  • 6 fresh brown button mushrooms, cleaned and cut into half
  • 2 packets of straw mushrooms
  • 1 cup tofu puffs, cut into half
  • 1/2 cup of goji berries
  • 4 bulbs of garlic


  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons dark soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 6 dashes white pepper
  • 1 tiny piece of rock sugar
  • Salt to taste

Dipping sauce

  • 6 red or green bird’s eye chilies, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons thick, sweet black sauce


  • 1 tablespoon fried shallots
  • 1 spring onion, sliced
  • 1/2 tablespoon of fresh coriander (optional)
  • Fried Yau Char Kuay


  • Fill a big pot with the water, garlic, Bak Kut Teh herbs, chicken and mushrooms, except the straw mushrooms, and bring to a boil on medium heat.
  • Reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for 40 minutes. Chicken takes less time to cook than pork ribs.
  • Add all the seasoning ingredients and simmer the broth over low heat for another 10 minutes.
  • Add the straw mushrooms, tofu and goji berries into the broth and simmer for a further five minutes only. The mushroom must remain chewy and add texture to the soup.
  • While waiting for the Chick Kut Teh to cook, prepare the dipping sauce by mixing all the ingredients together.
  • For extra effect, serve in a clay pot with a side of steamed white rice, the condiments, dipping sauce and Yau Char Kuay.

Tips: To prepare this dish with pork, remember to simmer the broth on low heat for two hours. The rest of the ingredients remain the same.

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