the appetizer:

Indonesian cuisine was influenced by traders from India, the Middle East, China, and, later, Spain and Portugal. The Dutch, who colonized many of the 6,000 islands that make up Indonesia, adapted the buffet eating style of the native peoples, into the famous rijstaffel (or rice table). Sambals and tempeh, an adaptation of tofu, also originated in Indonesia.

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Gulai Itik
(Sumatran Duck Breast with Green Chillies)

For 4 people

Most domesticated ducks in Indonesia fall into two types: in Java, one is called bebek and the other entok. However, people in Sumatra and Kalimantan and some of the smaller islands use the same name for both, which is itik. Not everybody likes duck, because they consider that these birds have a strong smell, particularly the entok.

There are several of grandmother's recipes for getting rid of this. Using a lot of garlic is one method, or soaking the birds in salted water, or covering the cut-up duck pieces with coarse sea salt for several hours, then rinsing them well before cooking, or washing the duck in diluted vinegar. I find that with the spice mixture given in this recipe, just marinating the duck pieces in the paste for several hours does the trick. In any case, people in the West don't complain of duck odour the way Indonesians do.

Here I give two ways of cooking the duck, the traditional Sumatran way, and my own quicker Wimbledon dinner party method. I call the latter bebek panggang hijau, and I use only the duck breasts.

4 duck breasts, thinly sliced
168 ml/6fl oz/3/4 cup hot water

For the paste:

4 large green chillies, de-seeded and chopped
5 shallots, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
4 candlenuts, chopped
2 tsp chopped ginger
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp chopped galingale or 1/2 tsp powder
2 kaffir lime leaves, shredded
2.5-cm/1-inch stem of lemongrass, outer leaves discarded, chopped
4-6 whole black or white peppercorns
4 tbsp tamarind water or lime juice
2 tbsp peanut oil
1 tsp salt

Put all the ingredients for the paste into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Then transfer the paste into a saucepan and simmer, stirring often, for 4-6 minutes. Then add the slices of duck, and continue cooking, stirring often, for 6 more minutes. Add the hot water, and increase the heat to bring the sauce to the boil. Continue cooking on this high heat for 5-8 minutes. Adjust the seasoning, and serve at once with rice.

Recipe from:
Indonesian Regional Cooking
By Sri Owen
St. Martin's Press, 1995
$18.95 Hardcover
288 Pages, with 50 line illustrations
ISBN: 0-312-11832-5
Reprinted with permission


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This page modified January 2007