Bali guling: Balinese suckling pig

babi gulingBabi guling is Bali’s most fmaous dish. Ask a Balinese person what their favourite food is and there is a good chance they’ll say “Bali guling”. Indonesia is a Muslim country, so pork isn’t celebrated as it is here in Bali. The Balinese however often keep pigs at home behind the house, feeding on food scraps, for that important time when they will be killed and eaten. The young suckling pig is used because of its tenderness, spit-roasted to perfection. Finding Bali Guling is a bit hard in tourist areas as it takes a while to prepare and is not really a dish most foreigners will ask for. As soon as you get away from the tourist scene in Kuta / Seminyak and head to Kerobokan, Mengwi, Ubud, or any other local place, the babi guling stands pop up.

babi gulingThere is a babi guling stand on Jl. Canggu, about 100 meters after the turn off from Jl. Raya Kerobokan, open during the day. The town of Gianyar is famous for it babi guling and the main street has stands that are easy to find. A babi guling stand will have the whole pig in the front window and a lady busily cutting bits into chunks. When you ask for a plate of babi guling you get a couple of slices of meat, some fat, skin, intestines, virtually everything that can be eaten. You’ll get a small portion of rice to accompany your pork, which is not specially spicy.

Here are the ingredients used in preparing babi guling.

•1 suckling pig, weighing about 6-8 kg (13-17 lb)
•1 1/2 tablespoon salt
•10 shallots, peeled and sliced
•6 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
•5 cm (2 in) ginger, peeled and chopped
•15 candlenuts, chopped
•10 cm (4 in) fresh turmeric, peeled and chopped
•2 tablespoons coriander seeds, crushed
•5 cm (2 in) laosfinely chopped
•25-30 bird’s-eye chillies
•10 stalks lemon grass, sliced
•1 tablespoon black peppercorns, crushed
•1 teaspoon dried shrimp paste, roasted
•5 fragrant lime leaves, finely shredded
•2 salamleaves
•2 1/2 tablespoons oil
•4 tablespoons turmeric water




Here are the instructions in case you have the urge to cook a babi guling at home.

Ensure the inside of the suckling pig is completely cleaned out. Season inside and outside with salt. Combine all other ingredients, except turmeric water, and mix thoroughly. Fill the inside of the suckling pig with this mixture, close the belly with string or thin satay skewers. Rub the outside of the pig with turmeric water until the skin is shiny yellow. Bake on a spit over a charcoal fire or in a moderately hot oven for 2.1/2 hours. Test if the meat is done by inserting a skewer into the thickest part. If the liquid runs clear the piglet is cooked. Baste with oil during cooking. Serve slices of pork with white rice and a hot tomato and chili sambal. If preparing a larger pig, increase the amounts of ingredients accordingly and allow extra cooking time. Alternatively place the suckling pig on a roasting rack and roast in hot oven (220°C/425°F) for approximately one hour. Rest for 10 minutes in warm place before serving.


Serving babi guling
When serving, first remove the crisp skin with a strong carving knife, then loosen meat from the bones and cut into even dice or slices. Place a heaped tablespoon of stuffing on each serving plate, then top with meat and skin. Traditionally this dish is eaten with Jukut Nangka Mekuah and steamed rice.

If you have a large barbecue with a rotisserie or constantly turning spit, you can cook the pig over charcoal for an authentic Balinese flavour. You don’t want to burn it, but slow cook it, so patience is necessary.

3 thoughts on “Bali guling: Balinese suckling pig

  • sjbali

    Well, Babi Guling is very nice.. BUT

    Mostly the Balinese prepare a Babi if they have ceremonie, early in the morning, but eat it later on the day after the ceremonie.
    (( don’t forget the size of the pig is important for the ceremonie, unfortunately not his taste, usually if the Balinese show up with big pigs, this is a sign the family has a better “status” ) well many time the Balinese borrow money for the ceremonies, but thats a different story )

    So most of the time it isn’t hot at all anymore.

    The taste is very different, if you like ok.
    ( but at least you get to see the whole pig and can pick your part.. )

    One of the best Babi Guling i know, is in Ubud @ IBU OKA, close to the market, very tasty.

    If you are an Foreigner and know suckling pig from your home, prepare yourself for this journey.

    The Balinese Babi Guling is very different, not only because of his spices.

    Try it and make your own decision.

  • Caroline

    Hi Nick
    Interesting read as I was just watching Anthony Bourdains “No Reservation” series on Discovery Travel channel- and he showed the preparation and cooking methods of ‘Babi Guling’
    It was filmed @ Ibu Oka!!!

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