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Tiong Bee Bah Kuk Teh: Tender Ribs and Trotters you can remove your dentures to eat!
Braised Ter Kah (Trotters)You know that old people like to eat pig trotters right? In the good old days when almost every Ah Peh or Ah Mmm had a full set of dentures (they are still around), trotters were THE dish for the dentally destitute. I used to think that the lack of teeth was the reason why elderly people like to eat trotters but recent medical research has uncovered another, more interesting reason.

I am sure you would have noticed how you prefer to eat certain things at certain stages in your life right? I know that as I grow older, I prefer to eat more veggies and less meat. When I was a teen, I was a reckless carnivore. There is a scientific explanation why kids don’t like their veggies. It is because their tongues are more sensitive to bitter tastes than adults are. Perhaps it is a built in instinct to safeguard kids from picking up poisonous plants to eat in the days when we were still cave dwellers. When you are a teenager, you go through a growth spurt and require high protein foods and lots of calcium. That might explain why teenagers love to eat meat.

So why do old people like trotters? Well it turns out that scientists have recently named trotters as one of the new age anti-aging foods. Being high in collagen, it is postulated that eating trotters frequently will keep your skin smooth and tight without the use of Botox. Took them long enough to realise what our Ah Mahs have known for the last 5000 years!

Othe-parts-of-the-pig soup

So where can you eat Ter Kah (trotters)? The best people to ask are the elderly folks of course. And they will tell you that you can usually eat trotters at stalls selling Teochew food. Some of the best trotters that I have ever eaten were in Thailand where there are lots of Teochews. But back home there has not been a trotter that has come close to those in Thailand. But the trotters at this particular comes pretty close.

The beauty of trotters lie in its slimy texture which comes from all the tendons which gelatinize after prolong cooking. There is, of course, a lot of fats and I wouldn’t advise you to eat all the fat especially if you have just undergone cardiac bypass. So which is the fat and which is the anti-aging collagen? Well, if we work our way from the skin surface downwards, the outermost layer is basically keratin, then just below that brown coloured layer is a clear layer which is connective tissue. Below that is where you find the subcutaneous fat. After that is where you find the tendons and the meat, then the bone. Of course, champion trotter fanciers would baulk at the idea of throwing out all that luscious fat, but for me I like to enjoy that slimy sticky gelatin with a clear conscience.

The Aunty here is 70 plus years old and she claims that she looks young because he eats her own Ter Kah regularly. It helps when you have a hawker that loves to eat their own food. She pressure cooks her Ter Kah for one and a half hours and the result is a trotter that is sublimely slimy and a sticky soy and herb braising sauce. 4.5/5

Bak Kut Teh $6.50 with rice
There are many famous Bak Kut Teh joints around with very high turnover. These stalls serve very good Bak Kut Teh, but nothing beats a boutique Bak Kut Teh where only three pots of soup are cooked everyday. That means that the ribs have been simmering in the pot for long enough such that the meat is very tender. I have found that the last two Bak Kut Teh stalls which I blogged all had meat which is less than falling off the bone. But the pork bone here is excellently tender, just like how mom used to make it at home. The soup is very balanced and has that ooommmph without being overly peppery. Unlike other stalls which try to differentiate themselves by having foot long ribs or clear soups or extra ingredients, there are no gimmicks at this stall. This is just good old Bak Kut Teh 4.5/5
The typical Teochew Bak Kut Teh stalls will still sell some steamed fish.. Every man has a weakness and mine unfortunately is mullet. The stinky, fishy smell of mullet is something I still have not learnt to like. I know that most Teochew Ah Hias love the fish, especially that prized blob of jellied fat in the middle, but I still have not found a mullet that I like, with the exception of cured mullet roe.

Aunty credits Ter Kah for keeping her looking young

Conclusion

Straightforward no nonsense Bak Kut Teh with a well balanced soup and meat that is wonderfully tender. The Ter Kah here is a dish you would not want to miss!


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Tiong Bee Bah Kuk Teh

Address:
588F Jalan Datoh, Off Balestier Road, Singapore 329899, Singapore
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Opening hours:
7:00AM to 3:00PM

Closed:
Alt Mondays