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Balinese-style roast duck

Bebek betutu is a classic Balinese dish in which duck is coated in a spice paste, wrapped in banana leaves and steam-roasted. Here, we've given it a bit of a twist by frying and roasting it to render and caramelise its fat, enhancing the flavour of the duck. As the spice paste used in this recipe is roasted, you can make it ahead and store it in the fridge for up to a week. For best results, use a mortar and pestle instead of a food processor for the paste - it's a bit more effort, but gives the dish a far superior flavour. Begin this recipe a day ahead to dry out the duck. Serve this dish with steamed jasmine rice.

You'll need

1 duck (about 2kg) 2 tbsp grapeseed oil 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced 1 bunch water spinach, large stalks trimmed (see note)   Spice paste 4 candlenuts (see note) 2 tsp coriander seeds 1 tsp cumin seeds 2 cloves ¼ tsp white peppercorns 4 golden shallots, coarsely chopped 4 garlic cloves, halved 4 long red chillies, coarsely chopped 10 gm each turmeric, ginger and galangal, coarsely chopped 3 tsp coconut oil 3 tsp shrimp paste 80 ml (1/3 cup) tamarind extract (see note) 30 gm light palm sugar, crushed


  • 01
  • Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Run a long piece of twine across the breast of the duck and under the wings and carefully lower it in the water for about 10 seconds to blanch the skin. Set aside to cool briefly, then refrigerate uncovered overnight to dry the skin (this gives the duck a nice crisp skin when it’s roasted).
  • 02
  • Preheat oven to 180C. Heat half the grapeseed oil in a large non-stick ovenproof frying pan (see note) over high heat. Add duck, breast-side down, transfer pan to oven and roast until breast-side is golden (3-5 minutes). Drain fat from pan, then turn duck and roast until cooked medium and juices run clear when the thigh is pierced with a skewer (50 minutes to 1 hour). Set aside to rest (15 minutes).
  • 03
  • Meanwhile, for spice paste, dry-roast candlenuts, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, cloves and peppercorns until golden and fragrant (1 minute). Transfer to a large mortar and pound with the pestle to finely crush. Add shallot, garlic, chilli, turmeric, ginger and galangal, and pound to a smooth paste. Heat coconut oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add shrimp paste and stir until fragrant (30-40 seconds), then add spice mixture and stir until fragrant (1-1½ minutes). Add tamarind extract and palm sugar, and cook until spice mixture deepens in colour and a thick paste forms (3-5 minutes). Set aside.
  • 04
  • Heat the remaining grapeseed oil in a wok, add garlic and stir until just fragrant (10-15 seconds). Add water spinach, toss to combine and remove from the heat immediately.
  • 05
  • Cut the duck into large pieces and serve with spice paste and water spinach.

Note Also known as kang kong, water spinach is an aquatic plant used in many Asian cuisines, often stir-fried with shrimp paste. It's available from Asian grocers. Candlenuts are also stocked at Asian grocers. If they're not available, substitute macadamia nuts. Tamarind extract is best made fresh. To make 80ml, combine 1 tbsp tamarind pulp and 100ml water, and stand until pulp softens. Break up the pulp in the water with the back of a spoon and strain through a coarse sieve. In the absence of a large non-stick frying pan that's ovenproof, line a pan with a piece of baking paper (making sure there's no overhang) to help prevent the duck from sticking to it.

At A Glance

  • Serves 4 - 6 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 4 - 6 people

Drink Suggestion

Hop-perfumed IPA.

Featured in

May 2015

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