Spice-stuffed smoked duck

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

Fire Islands: Recipes from Indonesia

Fire Islands

By Eleanor Ford

Published 2019

  • About

For special ceremonial occasions in Bali, cooking becomes a community activity and elaborately prepared dishes are crafted to honour the gods. Bebek betutu is one such creation, where duck is bathed in a spice paste and cooked for a whole day in a terracotta pot buried under rice husk embers. The meat is unbelievably tender and imbued with smoke and spice. I have adapted the traditional technique for a home oven with a smoking bag (or covered roasting tray) making it a more manageable feast, but a feast nonetheless.


  • 1.25 kg (2 lb 12 oz) duck
  • tablespoons tamarind paste
  • 1 large oven smoking bag

Bumbu spice paste

  • 10 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 8 small red Asian shallots, peeled
  • thumb of ginger, peeled
  • thumb of galangal, skin scrubbed
  • thumb of turmeric, peeled, or 1 tablespoon ground turmeric
  • 5 large red chillies, seeded
  • 2 red bird’s eye chillies
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 tablespoon kecap manis
  • 1 tablespoon dark palm sugar (gula jawa)
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon smoked salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • pinch of ground cloves
  • grating of nutmeg


Preheat the oven to 150°C (300°F).

Rub the duck skin all over with the tamarind paste and a scrunch of salt. Set aside at room temperature whilst you prepare the bumbu.

Roughly chop the aromatics for the bumbu and put everything in a blender with 275 ml (generous 1 cup) water. Whizz to a thin paste.

Paint the bumbu all over the outside of the duck, stuffing the rest into the cavity.

Tuck the duck and its spicy coating into an oven smoking bag and seal closed. Alternatively, place in a roasting tin in which it will sit quite snugly and cover tightly with a double layer of tin foil. Cook for 4 hours - it should be meltingly tender. Spoon off the top layer of melted fat, shred the meat and serve with its spicy sauce.