pretty good traditional balinese roast pig in the town of kerobokan. this is my first post of a few on bali, and what better way to start than something rather regionally famous? now, I’m no connoisseur of roast pork – I also don’t appreciate things like crackling – so the credibility of this post is based on our local driver’s recommendation, as well as my partner’s appreciation for the food.
babi guling is essentially the indonesian/balinese equivalent of the roast suckling pig, so common in chinese cuisine – and although 87% of indonesians are muslim, 93% of the balinese people are hindu, and so pork-of-crispy-skin isn’t quite as out-of-place as I you might initially think it to be.
these are some proper traditional rice crispies – before viewing this demonstration, I never realised that the traditional goodies made of rice pops were quintessential rice crispy treats, but they really are. made of freshly harvested rice grains popped by stirring through hot charcoal granules, there are sifted and then folded through caramel before being cut into rectangles.
the sifting removes the husk that pops off the exploded rice grains, and the cooks work very quickly with hot caramel so it doesn’t harden before the rice puffs get added.
they are poured into traditional wooden moulds as above, which ingeniously have grooves to make neatand consistent cuts. made with different variations such as sesame and coconut, and even noodles instead of rice – I really like this version – there are packed into clear plastic bags and sealed to be sold in the city and overseas.
it’s an old-school treat that’s been overshadowed by the prevalence of marshmallow-rice-treats, and one well – worth revisiting. you might just realize, as I have, that the oldie is a true goldie.
I still have a few posts on vietnam to go – this is the result of having a backlog so dense you can barely see the wood for the trees (does anyone watch QI?). but they’re still pretty cool and share-worthy.
this one is about that traditional vietnamese rice paper that we mostly see wrapped around salad leaves and prawns to make a summer roll – or goi cuon. the ones that you see here are made in the same manner as those translucent wrappings, just these are more opaque from the addition of coconut milk.
the lady competently ladles on batter of coconut milk and flour onto a cloth for it to be steamed, before lifting the thin and now-cooked sheet onto the edge of a rattan basket for it to dry slightly, before drying completely on vented rattan mats. some of them have sesame seeds or coconut shreds added to them.
you can buy these large dried rice sheets, and bring them home to toast into crisp shards of mildly sweet cracker, fragrant with the coconut milk and textural with the sesame sheets. they were a little large for us to carry, but I highly recommend them if you’ve got the space.
that last photo is of a rice mill, from which you can get the ever-useful rice flour.
bet that got your attention. this isn’t anything so risqué, really – just a tropical fruit with a green rind and white flesh, and milky white sap that oozes out as you stick a spoon into it.
we were brought to a villager’s family home, where they grow these trees in abundant – the elderly matriarch of the house took a pole-mounted net, stuck it up the trees and grabbed us a couple of ripe specimens (while I frantically googled these fruit after our guide mentioned its very suggestive name) and very proficiently threw them into a basket. these fruit grow on tall trees, and look sort of like a very smooth green orb, a little like a smooth-skinned guava.
you slice them into half, stick a metal spoon around the inner circumference (where ripe flesh meet the rind), swipe your spoon around neatly to eject a hemisphere of fruit, then spoon bits to eat, spitting the seeds out as you go. the taste of the fruit is a little like a custard apple, really kind of mild, while the texture is a little like a silky mangosteen. a very interesting fruit, and my dad caught onto it very quickly, finishing quite a few right there and then. I personally found the experience a little strange – but it’s more a visual reaction than a flavour one: I found the white sap coming out a little unsettling, almost like cutting into actual flesh (I think my mind makes far too much of the name of this thing). didn’t stop me from having two-and-a-half of these milk fruit though.
do get one if you come across them; it was only after this excursion that we realized we had seen quite a few of these in the ben thanh market, very large, perfect green spheres sold with a bit of stalk and a leaf. let me know how you like them if you’ve ever had a go!
while at the mekong lodge, we got a quick look at how coconut candy was made – it’s a semi-hard sort of toffee with a deep caramelly flavour, full of the notes of toasted coconut. essentially, caramel gets cooked in a large pot, thrown on the table to cool, before it’s divided into mounds and pushed out into a mould. these moulds are wooden, with straight trenches so the candy gets shaped into strips, before they’re cut into smaller squares.
we bought a couple bags that had bits of coconut in them, and these are some tasty things – sort of like werther’s originals done up asian-style. tasty!