Friday, August 7, 2009

Bebek Betutu – Balinese Roast Duck in Banana Leaf

Back from my holidays, this is my first attempt cooking a traditional Balinese cuisine. We have no idea how it will turn up, but brave enough to invite friends over to dine with us.

When we served it, I was thrilled with the result. The flavour was intense and complex with each of the herbs flavour revealing itself, complementing each other so well, not one overwhelming the other. Honestly, we have never tasted it like this in Bali. I am trying to figure out why it is different – could be the fresh herbs and generous time given in the preparation and cooking, e.g. rubbing the herbs on the duck and the one-hour steaming followed by half an hour baking in the oven. Whatever it is, we have the advantage of ample time and fresh herbs, which is always the constraint or has cost implications for a restaurant.

1 Whole Duck, about 2 kgs
18 Shallots, sliced thinly
6 cloves of Garlic, sliced thinly
1 stalk of Lemongrass, tender inner part of the bottom third only, finely sliced
6 Macadamia or Candlenuts (buah pala), chopped
5 cm Fresh Ginger, peeled and chopped
7.5 cm Turmeric root, peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon Black Peppercorns, crushed
5 Bird’s-eye Chillies, sliced
1 teaspoon Coriander seeds, crushed
2 teaspoon Dried Shrimp paste, dry roasted and coarsely crushed
1.5 tablespoon salt
3 tablespoon Oil
Banana Leaves, parchment paper or aluminum foil for wrapping
Wipe the duck dry and set aside. Mix all the ingredients above except for the banana leaves in a bowl. Ensure that it is mix well (I use my hand to mix it). Rub the duck inside and outside with the mixture and fill the centre of the duck with the remainder. Close the opening of the duck with satay skewers (I use little cocktail picks). Wrap it in several layers of banana leaves or foil and steam it for 50 minutes. Transfer the duck to the oven to bake at 180 degrees centigrade for 30 minutes.
To serve, remove the duck from the banana leaves and cut into small pieces and serve with the ‘stuffing’.
Tip: Shallots are very expensive here, and 18 needed! I substituted half with onions. Kencur root is unique spice usually used in Balinese cooking. It has the aroma of the camphor. I still have not acquired the flavour. I left it out from the mix - you won’t missed it, unless you are a Balinese.
In Ubud, Bali, some restaurant serve the dish with chicken instead, therefore ‘Siap Betutu’, siap is chicken in Balinese, and betutu is roast or smoked. We had this dish in Bunute Restaurant (photo on the left and below, with my son Aaron). Notice the chicken is too soggy.

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