Balinese Food: Babi Guling

Any traveller or tourist visiting Bali should endeavour to try a local delicacy called Babi Guling or roasted suckling pig. It is one of the most famous dishes on the island and is a mouth-watering feast not to be missed. A young suckling pig is used because of its tenderness and spit-roasted to perfection.

There are a few warungs and restaurants in the tourist areas that advertise on their menu this delicious food fare. Considering it takes a while to prepare it is not really a dish most foreigners will ask for. However, head up country away from the tourist areas to places like Mengwi and Ubud and you will soon notice in the larger villages babi guling stands virtually everywhere.

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 especially spicy.

According to an article I was reading in the Bali Discovery, the production of babi guling is on the increase and prices are reasonable considering the delicacy you will be eating: The least expensive and smaller babi guling can sell for as little as Rp. 300,000 (US$34) with most people purchasing a roasted pig selling for Rp. 400,000 (US$44) to Rp. 500,000 (US$55). Meanwhile, a large suckling pig sold during peak periods can go for Rp. 900,000 (US$100) to Rp. 1.2 million (US$133).

The best babi guling I have ever tasted was at Ibu Oka’s in Ubud. If you head up to Ubud then don’t miss out on the opportunity to stop in there for lunch, in fact, anytime.

If you are interested in trying your hand at cooking babi guling then here is an excellent recipe complete with ingredients:

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


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.

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