BBQ Whole Hog - Balinese Style

Babi Guling BBQ

Balinese BBQ Roasted Pig Instructions

This last December, 2017, I had the pleasure of visiting Bali, Indonesia and learning the tricks behind BBQ whole hogs. This is a tradition going back thousands of years. The methods haven't changed over the years at all.

1. Get a medium pig weighing about 120 pounds. The Balinese slaughter and process the animal on site providing a true farm to table experience. Chefs also collect the blood and sausage from the animal to create blood sausage. We won't go into detail about the sausage in this post.

2. Gather the required spices:

  • 80 g fresh turmeric, coarsely chopped
  • 12 birdseye chillies, finely chopped
  • 8 golden shallots, coarsely chopped
  • 5 large garlic cloves
  • 2 large lemongrass stalks, white part only, finely chopped
  • 10 g (2cm piece) ginger, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons coriander seeds, coarsely crushed
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns, finely crushed
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped galangal

3. Use a three yard sharp durable bamboo stick and skewered the entire pig from tail to mouth. A long pole shaped fire safe material can be used instead of bamboo.

4. Blend the spices together and insert into the cavity of the pig. Tie the cavity shut with bamboo, yarn or anything sturdy yet pliable.

5. The Balinese didn't do this but I am adding it here to provide the skin with more taste. Rub the exterior of the hog with mustard and add turmeric, salt and pepper, ginger, garlic and shallots. The mustard will bind the spices to the hog and create a truly excellent exterior.

6. Lay the wooden or bamboo pole onto a bbq pit with a lot of burning coals or wood on the right side. Attach the pole to a device that can turn the entire pig. Turn slowly for 4-5 hours. Be patient and wait until the skin starts peeling. Use a thermometer to make sure the shoulders have hit 165 degrees Fahrenheit. 

7. Eat and enjoy!

Injecting your meat

Ever try to cook a large piece of meat and having it come out dry and lacking flavor? This one trick will both add moisture and bountiful flavor to any large piece of protein, vegetable or fruit. When a person thinks injection, they automatically think about a medical term where a patient receives a vaccine or supplements. Meat ready to cook needs flavor supplements as well. 


The contents you use to shoot up your meat can vary depending on the flavor profile you wish to experience. Spices such as paprika and chilies can add fire to the front and back of your mouth. Garlic and onion provide strong accompaniments. Professional caterers and chefs often use beef stock to give a heavier and bold flavor to meats. Personally, my favorite mixes for injection include apple juice, pineapple juice, salt, pepper and paprika. The fruit juices give a nice welcoming aroma while the pepper and paprika provide a spice character. Experiment with different mixes and see what you get at the end of a cook. 

Cuts of meat

For barbecue, injection usually occurs with larger cuts like brisket, pork shoulder and whole chickens. People inject steak and turkey legs as well. The idea to inject large pieces of meat is to protect the protein from drying out during the long cooking process. Pork shoulders and briskets can take up to 12 hours to barbecue. Injecting with your favorite solution protects it from the fire and adds another layer of flavor once you cut into your meat. 

Types of injectors

There are hosts of injectors available on the market from small holed devices to multiple pronged tools to get the job done in a few steps. I personally like this little one because it's small and easy to use. The downside is larger chunks of spice and items in your solution can clog up the hole easily. These stainless steel injectors are more expensive and have larger holes. Larger holes mean you can suck up larger spices and chinks from your solution. It also means the injector will make larger holes in your meat and juices could spill out. 


There is no real rule on how early to inject. I usually inject right before placing the large protein item onto the grill. I do this about the same time as putting on the rub. Injecting the night before allows the solution to further penetrate the meat. 


Make sure to make at least 3-4 cups of solution per 10 pounds of meat. The solution should be cold and not hot. A hot solution will end up cooking your protein early. Shoot up as much solution as you can into your meat before the cook. You can do this right before placing the protein on the grill. 

The perfect caveman steak

Type of steak

Dwight D. Eisenhower, 34th President of the United States loved steak. He cooked it all the time with an unorthodox recipe known as the caveman or cowboy method. This is a very simple and straightforward way to cook any type of steak: filet, rib eye or t bone. My personal favorite is the rib eye because of its high marble fat content. With any recipe, the quality of your meat will improve the quality of your product. This is a good site to check the grade and quality of your steak.

Marinating your meat

One of the key steps to this recipe is to marinate your steak with sea salt for at least one hour in the refrigerator. Take 3 to 4 ounces of sea salt and rub it into one side of the steak. Flip the steak and repeat. Place it unwrapped in the fridge for at least one hour to two hours max. This process helps tenderize the steak and adds a savory flavor.

During this time, take a regular charcoal chimney and fill it up to the top. Light it up with fire starter, newspaper or paper towels doused with oil. Do not use lighter fluid because the chemicals will get into your food. Get the chimney nice and hot until you see blue and green flames shooting out the top of the chimney.

Cooking your steak

Take your steak out of the fridge and use a paper towel to blot out the excess salt. Remove 90% of the salt from the steak. Take your steak and and place it directly on the blazing hot coals. You might think this is not hygienic but the flame is so hot that it doesn't really matter. Let the steak sizzle for 1-2 minutes before flipping with tongs. Let it sizzles for another 1-3 minutes. At this time you'll see the steak start to change color. Depending on how you like your steak, you can let it stay longer to hit well done or pull it off for a more rare taste. Flip every 30 to 45 seconds.

How to tell if you steak is done


There is a simple trick to tell if your steak is done. Make a ring symbol with your thumb and first finger on your left hand. Take your right hand and poke the bulb part of your thumb on the left hand. This is how your steak will feel if it is very rare. Now take your middle finger and make a ring symbol with your thumb. This is what a rare steak feels like. The farther you go down, the tighter the bulb will feel. This youtube shows the method. I personally like a rare steak. As the steak is being seared, poke it every thirty seconds. Pull it off and serve immediately based on the tautness you like.

Enjoy your steak just like President Eisenhower did fifty years ago.