Roast pork with turmeric, ginger & garlic


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

Fire Islands: Recipes from Indonesia

Fire Islands

By Eleanor Ford

Published 2019

  • About

The crowning glory of Balinese cuisine is babi guling, a perfectly crackled, spice-scented, spit-roasted suckling pig. The whole pig is stuffed with a turmeric-gold paste known as basa gede or ‘big spice mix’. Such a feast is usually saved for big events: weddings, funerals and tooth filing ceremonies are all cause to pig out. Here is my scaled-down version for the home cook, so there is no need to wait for a celebration.


  • 1.5-2 kg (3 lb 5 oz-4 lb 8 oz) pork belly cut from slimmer half, skin on
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 400 ml (14 fl oz) tin coconut milk

Basa gede spice paste

  • 50 g (2 oz) small red Asian shallots, peeled
  • 50 g (2 oz) candlenuts or blanched almonds
  • 40 g ( oz) ginger, peeled
  • 6 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • 4 bird’s eye chillies, half seeded
  • 2 lemongrass sticks, trimmed and sliced
  • tablespoons ground turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon dark palm sugar (gula jawa), shaved
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon oil


Roughly chop the ingredients for the spice paste and whizz together in a food processor. Set a quarter aside in the fridge for the sauce.

Score the skin of the pork belly with a sharp knife for crisp crackling. Flip over and prick the meat with a sharp knife. Thickly spread over the spice paste, rubbing it into the meat. Roll the pork into a joint surrounded by skin and use butcher’s string to tie tightly at regular intervals. Cover loosely with foil and marinate in the fridge for a couple of hours or overnight.

When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F). Dry the skin well with paper towels and rub with plenty of salt. Sit on a wire rack over a roasting tray and cook for 30 minutes. Turn down to 180°C (350°F) and roast for a further 2 hours. Finally turn the heat up to 220°C (425°F) and give it a final blast for about 30 minutes to crackle the skin. Leave to rest for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile make the sauce by heating the oil in a pan. Add the reserved spice paste and fry for 5 minutes or until fragrant. Stir in the coconut milk and any juices from the roast pork. Simmer for 5 minutes and adjust the seasoning.

Serve the pork in thick slices with the sauce.