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What Is Babi Panggang?

By Angie Bates
Updated May 17, 2024
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An Indonesian dish with strong Chinese influences, babi panggang is roasted or grilled pork. This pork dish is usually made with not only a marinade but also a sauce and is sometimes compared to sweet and sour pork. Though many versions of babi panggang differ only slightly, some versions are considerably different.

Babi panggang usually has four elements: the meat, the marinade, the sauce, and cabbage. Cabbage is not used in any of the preparations, rather it is shredded and the finished dish is laid on the cabbage pieces. The pork used for babi panggang is generally tenderloin, though ribs may sometimes be substituted. The best meat for this dish is just slightly fatty.

The marinade is made of garlic powder; onion powder; ginger, called djahe; and sweet soy sauce. Salt and pepper are also usually added in small amounts and Chinese five spice powder or laos powder — called lengkuas or gelangal and similar to ginger — are often added as well. Cumin, coriander, and garlic may be also ground into a paste form and included in the marinade.

The ingredients are mixed together then spread on the meat. This is allowed to marinate for several hours or over night. Sometimes the meat is scored, or furrows are cut into the meat, and the marinade is poured into them for increased flavor.

In addition to the marinade, the meat may also have a sauce which is used as a glaze while it is cooked. The glaze often consists of margarine, sweet soy sauce, and onion. These ingredients are simply mixed together once the onion is diced. Alternatively, a spicy soy sauce may be used as a sauce instead.

The sauce may also be poured over the meat after it is finished cooking. Tomato puree and chili paste, called cambal ulek, along with sugar, white vinegar, and cornflour are mixed to make this type of sauce. Fresh ginger and ginger syrup are also included in this version. To make the sauce, the tomato puree, chili paste, and ginger are simmered in water before the vinegar and syrup are added. Cornflour, mixed with water, is added to thicken the mixture.

Babi panggang is also a popular dish in the Netherlands. The Netherlands' versions may use a type of Holland gin called jenever in the marinade. Jenever is extremely alcoholic and is considered a traditional liquor in Holland. When complete, babi panggang is often served with white rice.

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