Thursday, April 26, 2012


Banana Leaf
This is a dish I made many years ago for dinner parties.  Recently, after purchasing a duck at our local market, I decided to revisit it. Originally, I adapted this recipe for Bebek Betutu which, in Balinese, is a duck smothered in a paste made with pungent roots, herbs and seasonings and wrapped in banana leaves, steamed and then roasted.  When the duck is done, the banana leaves are removed and the duck meat is shredded and served with the "stuffing" of the spice rub paste.  After I shred the duck meat, instead of serving it alone, I like to make Balinese Duck Rolls using rice paper as the wrapper.  In the past, I would heat the rolls in the microwave before serving.  But the other day I fried (me frying something?) them in grapeseed oil which added a bit of crunchiness to the robust flavor of the rolls.

(4 1/2-pound) duck, washed and patted dry
Fresh Ginger
Spice rub paste:
8 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
1 cup shallots peeled and halved
3 stalks lemongrass, finely sliced
5 kaffir lime leaves, finely sliced
6 candlenuts, chopped
5 tablespoons ginger, peeled, and chopped
3 tablespoons fresh turmeric, peeled and chopped
Fresh Turmeric
3" of kencur root, or 3/4 tsp kencur powder (kenchur is a ginger-like root that has a unique camphor flavor – ½ tsp of powder is used in lieu of a one-inch piece of root)
1 teaspoon black pepper corns, crushed
5 bird's-eye chilies, sliced
1 teaspoon coriander seeds, crushed
2 teaspoons dried shrimp paste, roasted and coarsely crushed
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup olive oil
Banana leaves (can use aluminum foil for wrapping but you won’t get that underlying “herbed” taste)
4-5 sheets of rice paper, 8-10 inches in diameter
Duck Smothered in Paste

The duck:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a food processor, puree the first 12 ingredients. Blend well. Then add the soy sauce and olive oil.  Process again to form a thick, moist paste.
Rub the inside and outside of the duck with paste.  
Wrap the duck in several layers of banana leaves (or foil). 
Duck in Banana Leaves
I’ll fill a roasting pan with about 6 inches of water, insert a roasting rack, then place the duck on the rack and cover the pan with a lid.  Steam duck for about 50-60 minutes.  After the duck is steamed, remove and transfer to oven and bake for 30-40 minutes. When done, remove from oven.  Let duck rest for about 15 minutes.  Remove banana leaves.  Shred and cut duck meat into small pieces combining with the spice paste stuffing for for the rolls. 

Finished Duck
 The rolls:
Have a bowl of hot water (110-120 degrees) and a clean kitchen (tea) towel ready.  Put rice paper into the water until it softens (about 20 seconds).  Then place it on the towel.

Set a full amount of duck/stuffing mixture in the lower third part of the rice paper and form a log. Slowly start to roll away from you while tucking in the filling. Fold in the sides of the rice paper and continue to roll until the complete log is formed. Next, roll the rice paper roll in a sheet of plastic wrap, making it tight.  Fold over the last part of plastic wrap in the opposite direction, forming a tab so it will be easy to unwrap.  Twist ends and store in refrigerator for several hours to set, or up to one day. 
Duck Wrapped in Rice Paper
Duck rolls could be served either heated in a microwave for about 30-45 seconds or fried in grapeseed oil.

For the microwave, trim the end of each roll with a sharp knife, then cut into 2-inch sections right through the plastic wrap.  Unwrap each section and place, cut side up, on a plate.  If rolls were placed in the refrigerator, let them return to room temperature, then place in microwave for about 30-45 seconds to heat through. 

Alternatively, remove plastic from rolls.  Heat grapeseed oil and fry duck rolls (uncut) for about 3-4 minutes, until lightly browned.

Serve with a plum dipping sauce, store bought or, preferably, homemade.

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