The Saturday Kitchen – Easy Balinese Roast Chicken (Ayam Betutu)

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I’m almost apologetic posting yet another Bali inspired recipe, but let me say first that the cuisine of Bali is quite different from the rest of Indonesia. While it features the same kind of ingredients, the Balinese use them in a way that results in distinctly different flavours. It’s a bit more earthy, less fiery, and the flavours of the individual ingredients are somehow a bit more pronounced. Another distinct difference in the cuisine of Bali is that it includes pork, as most Balinese are Hindus, whilst the rest of Indonesia is predominantly Muslim.

So that said, here is my latest offering — an easy to make Balinese-style Roast Chicken, or Ayam Betutu. The original recipe requires the chicken to be marinated, wrapped in opor leaves, steamed for over an hour, then roasted for another hour or so. Like with the babi guling, I have taken the pretty elaborate recipe and whittled it down to something I can make easily, while (hopefully) maintaining all the flavours. The only lengthy process is the marinating. What I did was to marinate it in the morning, leave it to soak and roast it just before dinner.

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Easy Balinese Style Chicken

  • Servings: 6
  • Time: 40 mins
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

12 chicken thighs or one whole chicken

8 shallots
5 garlic cloves
6-8 candlenuts
1 chilli padi (add more if you like it hotter)
25g ginger
25g kecur (lesser galangal)
40g galangal
1/2 tsp belacan
2 stalks lemongrass
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp black peppercorns
11/2 tsp salt or to taste

• Pound all the marinade ingredients together into a paste. Rub it all over the chicken and leave to marinade for 4 hours at least.
• Roast in the oven for 40 mins at 180C, or until cooked through.

The Saturday Kitchen — Cheat’s Babi Guling (Balinese Roast Pork)

I may have dined in many famous, much-awarded restaurants around the world and eaten fabulous food by a myriad celebrated chefs. But the restaurant that has been haunting me for weeks and held me in its grip is Warung Rebo in Bali. Since dining there, the babi guling is something I have wanted to try to replicate. And I’m pleased to announce that I have finally attempted it! It is my own ‘cheat’s version’, and is based on Chef Heinz von Holzen’s recipe in the book ‘Bali Unveiled’.

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I have worked with Chef Heinz before, editing one of his books ‘The Street Food of Bali’. He is a delightful, hugely knowledgeable chef who has been living in Bali for well over 25 years, after having been the executive chef in Hyatt Singapore. If you want to try authentic Balinese food in a modern restaurant setting, or learn Balinese cooking, go to his restaurant Bumbu Bali in Nusa Dua, Bali.

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Anyway, I took his recipe which calls for a whole pig — his is totally authentic — and scaled it down to a 1.2 kg piece of pork belly. Did some short cuts on the marinade ingredients as well, and tested it out finally. For a first attempt, the result was very good. The crackling — so difficult to achieve — was thin, crisp and snapped into shards and the meat was moist, thanks I think to the fatty cut of the meat.

I served this to guests with the green bean and coconut lawar, a chilli and tomato sambal, and white rice.  I am well pleased with this, and hope you’d be curious enough to try. 🙂

Babi guling group

Cheat's Babi Guling

Serves 4-6 people

It’s actually an easy dish to make. The effort is mainly in pounding the herbs and spices for the marinade. After that, it’s just a matter of marinating and roasting it.

1.2 kg piece of pork belly, ask for a slightly thinner piece

1 Tbsp salt or to taste
40 g shallots
20 g cloves garlic
20 g ginger, cut into smaller pieces
50 g candlenuts
20 g galangal (blue ginger)
2 lemongrass
4 birds’ eye chilli
1 Tbsp ground turmeric
1 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp black pepper
3-4 kaffir lime leaves
1 generous tsp belacan, wrapped in foil and roasted in a dry pan
1 Tbsp oil

• Scrub the pork down with 2 teaspoons of salt and wash the salt away. Pat dry, poke holes into the skin, then set it aside, skin side up.

• Now make the marinade. Pound all the ingredients in a pestle & mortar. (You can use an electric chopper and whizz it coarsely, but I prefer to pound it in a traditional mortar and pestle as the crushing and grinding motion gets the flavours and oils out better.)

• Coat the pork thoroughly with the marinade, then roll and tie it up with string. Leave it thus to marinate for at least 2 hours (but overnight is best).
• Preheat the oven to 240°C. Put the pork on a roasting rack, and roast for 20-25 mins. Then turn the oven down to 170°C and leave it to roast for another hour.
• Take it out and let it rest for 15 minutes then slice it thickly and serve.

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