Bali’s Favorite Dish: Babi Guling
Ask any Balinese person what their favorite food is, and they will most likely tell you it is the ubiquitous and much cherished babi guling, or in English, roast suckling pig. This delicious and authentic Balinese fare can be found in small warungs (simple local eating establishments) and restaurants in almost every village and town on the island, and it is also commonly served at important events such as weddings and coming of age ceremonies.
Preparation begins by stuffing freshly slaughtered juvenile pigs with a mixture of savory and fragrant ingredients such as garlic, ginger, ground candlenuts, kaffir lime, black pepper, turmeric and chilli. Then the pigs are slowly roasted on a spit over a wood fire for hours, and continuously basted in coconut oil or water to ensure that the meat stays tender and moist while the skin turns a rich golden brown.
Typical servings of babi guling include thick slabs of juicy white meat, thin slices of crispy aromatic skin, rich blood sausage and succulent innards prepared a myriad of ways. Side dishes can often include a vegetable dish such as diced long beans with grated coconut, a spicy sambal, a rich pork broth soup, and of course, the staple of every Balinese diet, rice.
The most popular place to eat babi guling in Bali is without a doubt, Warung Ibu Oka in Ubud. Since the restaurant opened over two decades ago, word of mouth and rave reviews by notable food writers, including author and TV host Anthony Bourdain have ensured that this small warung is packed to the gills with both tourists and locals alike every day. At the time of writing a “Special” plate with all the trimmings cost 30,000 Rupiah.
Other popular places to eat babi guling include Warung Mika in Batubulan, just south of Ubud on the main road to Denpasar, Warung Babi Guling Sanur, on the Sanur bypass, and Warung Babi Guling Bapak Dobiel in Nusa Dua. Prices vary depending on the restaurant or warung. Of course, if you are invited to a Balinese family ceremony, this is a great way to sample this delicious dish for free and experience authentic Balinese culture.