Bali food blog — 4 Balinese special ties for distinctive tastes-lovers

Curated by BuffaloTripJune 13, 2017 Viewed: 107

The combination of the rich Hindu culture and the polytheism in Bali has inspired many art forms, especially culinary art. Bali’s specialties, which are highlighted by various local aromatherapies and spices, were historically used as offerings in religious ceremonies. Nowadays, they are renowned as the pride of the largest tourist island in Indonesia.

Babi Guling Bali - Roast suckling pig

Babi is a must-have dish in any popular festival on Bali. Roast suckling pig is served with rice, local vegetables and signature hot sauce. The most famous place for Babi guiling would be none other than Ibu Oka in Ubud. The owner of this restaurant shares that suckling pigs are not as small as many people think. A well-cared pig which eats clean food and follows a good regime can weigh up to 70kg and produce great meat. 

Traditionally, the pig is prepared in the early morning so that the host can treat his guests for lunch. First, the chef rubs the skin of the pig well with turmeric until it is bright yellow. The cavity of the pig is stuffed with coriander, lemongrass, lemon leaves, salam leaves, chili, black pepper, garlic, ginger and galangal. When the pig is ready, it is skewered lengthwise with a big stake and set above hot charcoal. Strong young men rotate the pig slowly until it is nicely browned and cooked through. The skin must be crispy and buttery but not too cloying. The chef sometimes splashes a little water on the hot charcoal in order to make the dish smoky. This is a striking feature of traditional Babi Guiling, which is far different from roasted pig or fried pig in other regions.

Imagine that you are waiting eagerly for your Babi Guiling, and when the dish is ready, its colors and flavors satisfy you. The glossy gold color of the crispy skin blended with white rice and green traditional hot sauce catch your eyes while the scent of ginger, lemongrass, pepper and chili make you hungrier. Do as the locals do, and don’t hesitate to eat the dish with your hands.

Bebek Betutu – Balinese steam duck

Bebek Betutu is famous for its finical recipe. It is so sophisticated that before becoming popular at tourist restaurants, the duck required had to be ordered at least one day in advance. Only local ducks that are fed on leftover grains and seeds in Ubud’s rice fields are selected. Clean the duck and season it with salt, pepper and tamarind extract to get rid of the bad odor. The duck is stuffed with eggs, salam leaves and a special mixture named “Bumbu Rajeng", making Bebek Betutu more flavorful. Having marinated for 8-10 hours, the duck is wrapped with betel-nut bark and steamed. When cooked, the meat should be so tender that it falls off the bones.

Perhaps the dish’s sophisticated recipe and the long preparation and cooking required are the secrets of the island’s cuisine of “strange tastes”. Nowadays, there are only some restaurants offering this special dish in Bali, each over 30 years old. Apart from Bebek Betutu, a variant named Bebek Goreng (crispy fried duck) is favored. 

Sate – Grilled meats

There are many excellent instances of culinary arts in the world and Balinese sate must be the most diverse international dish. Different culinary cultures have their own specialties bearing their distinctions of culture and climate. Visiting Bali, don’t miss sate, the most flavorful dish on the island. 

Balinese people often eat sate at special parties. The host and his guests sit around a “table” made from banana arecas. Sate is served with fried rice, beansprouts salad, shrimp-chips and crispy roasted soybeans.

Whether prepared by a talented chef of a five-star hotel or by a humorous street vendor, the dish always brings you a great dining experience. You will find it interesting while seeing your chef skewer meat, continuously dipping them into sweet soy sauce and skillfully grilling the sate on charcoal. Some restaurants serve sate with the same spicy sauce as Babi Guiling and Bebek Betutu. Cardamon, cinnamon and dill seeds can also be added. Some chefs grind peanuts to make sauce, bringing a distinctive flavor. I’m sure that you couldn’t handle the wait while watching the skewers of meat being cooked, smelling the sweet odor of burned sugar and feeling the smoke rise from the spit. After a day wandering the romantic streets of Bali, why don’t you treat yourself with hot sate or other grilled dishes?

Masakan Padang – Padang cuisine

Padang is a village of Minangkabau people of West Sumatra, Indonesia and Masakan Padang is known as the signature cuisine of Palang village. Because most Minangkabau people are Muslim, Minangkabau cuisine follows halal dietary law rigorously. However, when visiting Bali, you will find halal functions like the rules in a game of football, in which the players must skillfully work within the guidelines to create something beautiful and uniquely their own. Watch as the island’s developing culinary scene plays the game, working creatively within the rules as locals skillfully prepare their ingredients including beef, water buffalo, goat, lamb meat, poultry and fish, along with offal.

Minangkabau cuisine demonstrates Indian and Middle Eastern influences, dishes cooked in curry sauce with coconut milk and a hefty mix of spices. The cuisine is usually cooked once per day and items on the menu are usually left on display inside glass cupboards so diners can easily know whether the restaurant offers their favorites or not. If you are wondering about these dishes, the waiter will recommend some highly flavored foods such as beef rending (a spicy meat stew), fried chicken, curried fish, and of course, sambal, the spicy sauce found on every Indonesian table. The chosen dishes will be served immediately to your table with steamed rice, curry sauce and vegetables such as steamed cassava leaves, young jackfruit and cabbage.

Don’t be surprised when they provide kobokan, a bowl of tap water with a slice of lime in it. This water is used to wash one's hands before and after eating, since in Padang food establishments, dishes are usually eaten by hand. If you do not wish to eat with bare hands, it is acceptable to ask for a spoon and fork. Clearly, the idiosyncrasies of Balinese dishes are intertwined with their unique methods of enjoying food.