Zak Pelaccio, award-winning chef and owner of the Fatty Crab and Fatty 'Cue restaurants and author of the new cookbook Eat With Your Hands.
"A whole smoked pig is an opportunity to seriously party," says Zak. "That's what I love about barbecue - it's the most social way to cook, with everyone outside having a good time. I crave that relaxed atmosphere." Though it has similarities to a Hawaiian kalua pig, Zak's barbecue - shot through with dashes of chile, lime, ginger and fish sauce - is most inspired by the flavors of Southeast Asia, especially Malaysia. "In Asia, cooking outside over fire is not new," Zak explains. "But at Fatty 'Cue we try and play around and bring those flavors to barbecue made in the traditional offset-smoke American style. The goal is to just get the natural flavors out of the meat."
Serve it with: Go for something that counterbalances the rich fattiness of the pig. Zak suggests drizzling the chopped pork with a sauce made from fish sauce, palm sugar, rice vinegar and chopped chiles, and serving with kimchi, corn dressed with butter and lime, salad from the garden and big stacks of white bread.
Pro tip: When I'm making a whole hog, I look for an animal that is well marbled and has a good fat cap to it. I've cooked a large variety of breeds - Tamworth, Red Wattle, you name it. But I've never cooked a standard white conventional pig. Most people live close enough to farms these days that its possible to get it fairly locally. And if you're cooking a whole pig, it means you're dedicated - so don't skimp out on the sourcing, or you're shooting yourself in the foot before you even start.
Whole Smoked Hog