BABI GULING, Balinese Famous Suckling Pig

Bali’s most popular dish is pig roasted on a spit. The Balinese call it be guling, or just guling, meaning “turned,” in the sense of a rotisserie. Tourists are told that the word is babigulingand that it means roast suckling pig. But, babi is an Indonesian, not a Balinese word, and the pigs are invariably long past the suckling stage. Guling can be prepared on a less grandiose scale than ebat. Commercial kitchens turn out quantities of guling in the larger cities for sale in street food stalls and night markets. Sometimes a family will make guling at home just for the pleasure of it.

The pigs vary from 3 to 6 months old and weigh from 4 to 6 kilo­grams. After they are slaughtered by cutting their throats, they are de-haired in boiling water and the viscera are cleaned out. Then the body of the pig is rubbed with turmeric to make the final color a deep golden brown, and the abdominal cavity is stuffed with more or less the same basa genep that is used with ebat, and then sewed shut. A long wooden pole is thrust through the pig, and it is turned by hand over burning coconut husks and wood for two to three hours, depending upon the size of the pig. Someone has to fan the flames with a long paddle-like object, so it takes at least two people to cook the meat.

Balinese pigs are a breed unto themselves, with enormous protruding pot bellies that literally drag along the ground, like a drooping sack slung between two poles. As a result, the puling is extremely fatty, generally too much so for Western tastes. But the Balinese love it, and they consider the golden brown, crispy skin the best part.

There is a famous be puling food stall in Gianyar village, northeast of Denpasar. Here a constant stream of Balinese taxi and truck drivers, farm­ers, children and locals consume 6 or 7 big pigs by the individual plate every day. The standard plate costs about Rp 600 and is heaped with gul-ing, pig lawar, rice, boiled jackfruit, cooked blood, and sausage made from pig intestines. The nearby kitchen is operated by a single family. The group of around 15 or 20 workers starts work at 3:00 a.m. for the benefit of those who go to market early. The food is delicious.

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