Balinese slow-roasted pork

Balinese slow-roasted pork

Leanne Kitchen

This is a very famous dish from Indonesia, which goes by the name babi guling, meaning ‘roast pork’. Usually a pig around 12 months old is traditionally cooked over hot coals for 3–4 hours. If you get the chance to visit Bali, get along to a babi guling restaurant – it’s an unforgettable local dining experience. This recipe calls for kencur, which is a ginger-like tuber with a very strong, medicinal flavour. It’s easiest to buy it ground from Asian supermarkets. Serve this with plain boiled rice and a nice cold beer!


Quantity Ingredient
1.5 kg piece boneless pork belly
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Spice paste

Quantity Ingredient
1 1/2 teaspoons trasi (indonesian shrimp paste)
3 lemongrass stems, chopped, white part only
5 kaffir lime leaves, central vein removed, finely chopped
3 candlenuts, coarsely chopped
5 brown shallots, coarsely chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
6 red bird’s eye chillies
1 tablespoon chopped fresh turmeric
or 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
3 cm piece fresh ginger, chopped
3 teaspoons ground coriander
3 teaspoons ground kencur
1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil

To serve

Quantity Ingredient
kecap manis
Tomato sambal
peanut crackers, (optional)
lime wedges


  1. Using a sharp knife, score the underside of the pork belly all over in a criss-cross pattern, cutting about 1 cm into the meat.
  2. For the spice paste, wrap the trasi in foil. Heat a small, heavy-based frying pan over medium heat, add the wrapped trasi then dry-fry for 2 minutes on each side, or until fragrant. Cool and unwrap. Combine with the remaining paste ingredients in a food processor and process until a fairly smooth paste forms. Alternatively, use a mortar and pestle.
  3. Rub the paste all over the scored pork flesh then place in a non-reactive dish, skin side up.
  4. Combine the salt, ground turmeric and oil. Using your fingers, rub this all over the skin of the pork. Refrigerate the meat for 8 hours or overnight for the flavours to develop and the skin to dry out.
  5. Remove the pork from the refrigerator and bring to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  6. Roast the belly, skin side up, for 25 minutes. Remove the pork from the oven and prick the skin all over with a thin metal skewer, then roast for another 25 minutes.
  7. Heat the oven grill to high and put the pork, skin side up, on an oven tray lined with foil. Cook under the grill, about 8–10 cm from the heat, for 10–12 minutes or until the skin is evenly crackled – you may need to rotate the pork to get an even crackling. If you don’t have a grill, you can cook the crackling in a 230°C oven for 15–20 minutes or until crisp.
  8. Stand the pork at room temperature for 10–15 minutes to rest the meat, then slice into 1 cm thick pieces. Serve immediately with some kecap manis and tomato sambal for dipping, peanut crackers, if using, and lime wedges for squeezing over.
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