02 August 2011

Babi Guling - Balinese Suckling Pig

babi guling bali suckling pig

I didn't know what to expect when I went to Bali. I had only met a few people who had been there, and they claimed it was only worth a pit stop on the way to more exotic Indonesian locations such as Sulawesi or East Java. So I was pleasantly surprised that when you got out of the backpacker ghettos of Kuta and the south beaches there was an incredibly interesting and in your face Balinese culture.

Balinese Hindu temples and monuments are everywhere and almost everyday seems to be some kind of special religious day with music and processions from temple to temple. The food has a  unique mixture of Southeast Asian ingredients mixed with Indian flavours that were imported with Hinduism centuries ago. The traditional roast sucking pig babi guling a good example of this melding of cultures.
Most Balinese eat several times a day at roadside kitchens called warung. A warung is an Indonesian term for a small roadside stall that sells snacks, drinks and convenient household items. However, in Bali a warung is also the local coffee house, corner store and community meeting spot for neighbours to sit and exchange the latest news or gossip. nasi campur, bakso, and other native dishes can be ordered.
Warung Babi Guling sell the whole roast pig as well, and can be spotted by their signs with the pig painted prominently.

Babi guling has a complex mix of flavours. Turmeric, lemongrass, kaffir and chili are all present. The meat is succulent and the piece of skin that comes with it is like a salty caramelized shard of glass. Ibu Oka in Ubud is probably the most popular of all the babi guling places cooking up to six whole pigs a day. The owners speak English well there so I could ask a few questions about the process and the stuffing. The recipe I came up with was a total success especially since I winged it by taste and memory of my trip in 2007.
Babi Guling from Ibu Oka photo by suanie
Steve's Babi Guling

Roughly chop the following ingredients in a food processor. Amounts are approximate and to taste

1 cup peeled ginger
½ cup galangal
15 cloves garlic
15 shallots
8 stalks lemon grass
8 kaffir lime leaves
12 red Thai chilies
3 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tbsp  ground cinnamon
5 piece star anise
1 tbsp Thai shrimp paste
3 tbsp salt
1 cup vegetable oil

babi guling recipeFirst you rub the skin of the pig well with a mix of turmeric, salt, and water until it is bright yellow.

babi guling recipe roast pig
Fill the cavity of the pig with the stuffing and sew shut with bamboo skewers.
place on a wire rack over a drip pan and roast in the oven at 400 degrees for about 2½ to 3 hours.
babi guling recipe
One of the most important parts of the process is basting. You need the water of about 4 coconuts or the liquid of 4 cans of coconut milk. If using coconut milk keep the cans in a refrigerator for about an hour and open the cans from the bottom. This will leave the coconut cream in the can and give you the liquid. Baste the pig with the coconut water every 15 minutes until the pig is done.

I couldn't believe how red and crisp the skin turned out!

whole roast indonesian pig

I cooked some jasmine rice and fried it with the drippings from the tray along with some chopped kale, chilies and green onions. and served it with cucumber coriander and chopped peanuts

babi guling sucking pig bali recipe
The end result
babi guling recipe toronto


  1. Incredible! I think I prefer the end result images best (haha), but the photos of the process are awesome. That looks like a lot of work!

  2. Great post. Those pictures have made me so hungry I think I could eat a full size pig right now!

  3. Thanks for the complements! I'd been waiting a while for the oppurtunity to make this

  4. This looks amazing & reminds me of the babi guling I had last year when I was there. You must have a big oven to hold a whole suckling it a professional size? Also, I was surprised it was cooked at such a high temp, 400°F, but the end results show that it works great. Thanks for sharing your experience - it will surely help me in my attempt! My oven is small, though, so I will do only the leg, shoulder, ribs, pieces!

  5. Girlcookinparis- yes It's a rational convection oven. I could actually cook 4 at a time if I wanted. My original intention was to turn the oven down after an hour or so, but it wasn't necessary. All ovens are different, so moniter it carefully as your basting

  6. Hey! Glad to find your recipe! It definitely looks delicious. But what was your pig weight? I'm planning to cook a 40kg one for +/- 100 people for the french national day :)

  7. Wow, finger licking good...
    btw, i just apply the coconut water tips within my roastede pork belly, all the effort for applying it every 10 minutes is wotrthed, the skin is crisp up!

  8. Do u know the weight of the pig before u roast it? How many kg (or percentage) gone after the roasting process? If say i bought 40kg pig live, roughly how many portion of nasi bigul can i serve?

  9. A 40kg pig is huge. The biggest I've roasted is about 25kg, and most have been around 15kg. I have no idea how a pig so large would turn out, or how many people it would serve