Itik Golek: A Special Northern Duck Recipe

itik golekPerfectly cooked Itik Golek covered in thick, spiced gravy

The name itik golek literally translates into rolled duck, which is fairly odd considering no physical rolling is actually required in the making of this very traditional dish. There is another type of itik golek out there in the world of Malaysian food – a skewered rotisserie duck that bears little resemblance with this Northern, in particular, Kedahan, recipe. So why the name golek? We, personally, have no idea, but if you have a theory, or know exactly why it’s called golek, leave us a comment below!

Duck does not feature regularly in the world of Malaysian cuisine as it’s not one of those meats commonly found in supermarkets, even though we’re big fans of salted duck eggs. The chinese restaurants are probably where one would go to get their dose of duck in Malaysia, especially of the roasted or Peking variety. Unlike roasted duck, however, itik golek has a rather heady and thick spiced sauce not unlike that of korma. It is rich and comforting, and the flavours go oh so well with fall-off-the-bone tender duck meat.

A bit of effort is required to make itik golek – like a trip to a proper market to get your hands on a whole fresh duck, as well as a lot of patience – but we promise you it’s deliciously worth it. And, if you have future or current in-laws from Kedah, this is a great dish to put together to earn some serious brownie points.

  • 1 whole fresh duck
  • liver and gizzards from the duck
  • 1 medium potato, boiled and peeled
  • 1 large onion, peeled
  • 1 egg, boiled and peeled
  • coconut milk (santan) from 2 coconuts
  • 2 pcs tamarind peel (asam keping) or tamarind water
  • 300ml water, plus additional
  • 1/3 tsp salt
  • 4 tsp ground white pepper
  • 4 tbsp cumin powder
  • 1 whole head garlic, blended
  • ½ cup cooking oil
Special equipment
  • needle and thread or small skewers
  1. Clean duck thoroughly and drain.
  2. In 300ml water, mix white pepper, cumin and garlic. Set aside.
  3. In a medium frying pan, heat cooking oil and sautée spice mixture until the oil has risen to the top (pecah minyak).
  4. Add liver and gizzards and stir until half cooked.
  5. Add egg, potato and onion. Continue to stir occasionally. When onion is half cooked, remove everything from the fire.
  6. Minding the heat, stuff the egg, potato, onion and liver into the duck’s cavity. Seal the cavity closed by sewing with a needle and thread or small wooden skewers. This ensures the stuffing stays put. Reserve the sautéed spice mix.
  7. In a large pot, pour coconut milk and sautéed spice mix, then add the duck. Pour in enough water to just cover the duck.
  8. Cook slowly over a medium fire. Do not cover. Stir occasionally, roughly every 10 minutes to ensure the duck does not stick to the pot. As liquid levels drop, spoon sauce over parts of the duck that are exposed. Be patient. It will take approximately 3 hours for the coconut milk and spices to reach a thick, gravy-like consistency. Oil from the coconut milk and duck fat will also begin to rise.
  9. When the gravy has thickened, add salt and tamarind peel. Stir gently. Your dish will be ready in 5 minutes. Your duck should be tender and the meat should easily come off the bone.
  10. Before serving, skim the clear oil out of the pot. You should be able to remove 1 cup of oil or more as you wish.
  11. Remove thread or skewers and tamarind peels. Serve the duck hot, in its entirety. Itik golek is best eaten with rice or sliced bread.
itik golek
The itik golek is almost ready
Extra tips
  1. This dish works equally well with chicken if you’re having trouble locating fresh duck. If using chicken, the cooking time from step 6 onwards will be reduced to 2 hours. Don’t forget to buy some chicken liver if your chicken doesn’t come with.
  2. If you don’t want to use tamarind peel, replace it with a bit of tamarind water at step 9.
  3. Don’t feel like rice or bread? Try having itik golek with pasta instead. Don’t knock it till you try it! And don’t forget to toss your pasta in that delicious thick gravy.

A favourite of the father of Malaysia’s independence, itik golek is a hearty crowd pleaser. Give it a go if you’d like to make something a little extra special for dinner one day. And don’t forget to tag us on #butterkicap if you do.

Butterkicap Team

We're just a small group of friends who love food, culture and Malaysia. We saw the rise of mediocre food, deteriorating relationships and missed the good old days of Malaysia where food was good, homes were warmer and full of friends and family. So we rolled up our sleeves, and made Butterkicap with the hope that it will bring people and flavors home.

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