Mai Chau ‘Armpit Pig’ Roasted on a Spit

Try out this recipe for low fat, crispy skin Mai Chau roasted pig, based on a breed of pig so small it is tucked under the arm.

article image
by Alan Benson and Suzanna Boyd


  • 2 lemongrass stems, white part only, thinly sliced
  • 6 pomelo leaves or lemon leaves, thinly sliced
  • 3 spring onions (scallions), thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons five-spice
  • 1 small whole black pig, 3–4 kg (6 lb 10–8 lb 13 oz)
  • 350 g (12 1/2 oz/1 cup) wild honey
  • 250 ml (8 1/2 fl oz/1 cup) vegetable oil
  • Vietnamese baguettes, to serve
  • light soy sauce for dipping
  • sliced red chili, to serve


  • In a mixing bowl, combine the lemongrass, pomelo leaves, spring onion, salt and five-spice. Mix together well, then insert the mixture into the cavity of the pig.
  • Mix together the honey and oil, then brush the mixture over the skin of the pig. Skewer the pig to place on the barbecue rotisserie. Light your barbecue charcoal beads and wait for the fire to die down.
  • When the coals are glowing, place the skewered pig onto the rotisserie and begin to rotate the spit every few minutes over medium heat. Roast for 40 minutes, basting the pig with the honey and oil mixture every 5 minutes.
  • Serve the pig with baguettes and a side dipping sauce of light soy sauce and sliced red chili.

White Thai people call suckling pig ‘armpit pig’, because their breed of black pig is so small that you can carry the pig under your armpit. Suckling pig is much loved in Vietnam for its tender meat, low fat content and ridiculously thin, crispy skin. I sometimes even dream about it…

More from The Food of Vietnam:

Recipes excerpted with permission from The Food of Vietnam by Luke Nguyen, published by Hardie Grant Books, October 2013, RRP $50.00.