The Betutu I had when I was growing up, was the one made with duck stuffed with star fruit leaves and spicy spice mix. I don't remember that this dish was part of an everyday dish, this was, always been a special dish served only on a special occasion related to Balinese Hindu religious festivals. Back then, I don't remember that I was thrilled and looked forward to this particular dish. I think, Babi Guling (suckling pig) was the only dish that kids like me were always waiting for. As I grow older, and live far away from Bali, I started to miss certain dish such as Betutu. The only way I can satisfy my craving is by making it in my own kitchen. Of course I can not find star fruit leaves, but it is always an easy choice to choose other green such as kale, swiss chard, or collard green as substitute. I also like to use cornish hens, and safe the duck for a special occasion.
This betutu can easily serve up to 8 people, of course it all depends on how much each person will eat. Since a cornish hen is quite small, it might only enough to serve 2 people per hen in your family.
Ayam Betutu, Balinese Chicken Wrapped In Banana Leaves
Serve 4 - 8
2 cornish hens
1 tbs coriander seeds, lightly toasted
1/2 tsp black peppercorns
5 - 10 white peppercorns, optional
Spice paste mix:
1 tbs minced garlic
1/2 cup roughly chopped shallots
3 kaffir lime leaves
2 tbs freshly grated ginger
1/3 cup or more chopped fresh lemongrass
1/2 tbs chopped fresh galangal
1 large Roma tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 tsp dry roasted shrimp paste (terasi, or belachan)
5 - 10 Thai chili, or 10 dried Californian chili
2 tsp kencur powder
2 tsp turmeric powder
4 kemiri nuts, roughly chopped
1 tbs fish sauce
salt to taste
1/4 cup or less, vegetable oil for frying
2 kaffir lime leaves
Rinse cornish hens under cold running water, pat dry with paper towel. Set aside.
To make ground spices, place all ingredients for ground spices in a coffee grinder and grind to fine powder. If using dry red chili, grind them as well. Transfer to a food processor, add all ingredients for spice paste mix, process to make a smooth paste. Add a bit of water if necessary to keep blade running.
Heat oil in a frying pan, fry spice mix until fragrant, about 5 to 7 minutes on a medium low heat. Add fish sauce and salt. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Cool completely.
Divide spice paste mix into two portions. Each portion will be for each hen.
Place several layer of banana leaves on a flat surface. Working with one hen at a time, spread about two tablespoons or more of spice paste mix on banana leaves, lay one cornish hen on top. With your index finger, loosen up the skin around the breast and the legs, then fill with spice paste, do it gently so you will not tear the skin. Rub more spice mix all over the hen, finally stuff in all remaining paste into the cavity. Lay one kaffir lime leave on hen's breast, enclose and secure both end with tooth picks. Take 2 layers of aluminum foils, and wrap the entire parcel with it. Repeat with the other hen in the same manner.
Grill on medium low for an hour (depending on your grill temperature), or until the hens is cooked thoroughly. When ready to serve, open the parcel and place them directly on the grill to get the char and smoky flavor, about 2 minutes, or put them under the broiler for 2 to 5 minutes. Serve with plain steam rice, and simple saute green vegetable, or if you interested in keeping the Balinese theme, serve with Balinese mix vegetable.