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Otak-Otak Spices

Otak-Otak Spices

Otak-Otak Recipe

Otak-otak is a South East Asian delight, made of spicy fish paste wrapped & grilled in fragrant banana leaves.

Serves: 8 to 10 large otak-otak

Prep Time: 40 mins

Cook Time: 12 mins


  • 100 grams tengirri fish meat (spanish mackerel) or any white fish you like
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp tumeric powder
  • 2 tbsp rice flour
  • 1-2 tbsp corn flour/starch
  • 1/2 tbsp coconut cream or milk
  • banana leaves

(A) Otak-Otak Spices

  • 150 grams shallots peeled
  • 4 candlenuts
  • 5 kaffir lime leaves finely snipped
  • 1 stalk lemongrass outer green leaves removed, sliced as thinly as possible
  • 3 cloves garlic peeled
  • 10 grams belacan (dried shrimp paste)
  • 15 grams galangal (blue ginger) sliced
  • 10 dried chilli soaked in water to soften & sliced
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil


  1. Add fish meat to blender and give it a few pulses. If you don’t have a blender, you can use a knife to chop the flesh to smaller bits. Set aside.
  2. Add (A) in an electric blender. Grind until you get a smooth paste.
  3. Place blended paste in a stain-proof mixing bowl and add egg white, curry powder, tumeric powder, rice flour, corn flour and coconut cream. Mix well.
  4. Return fish meat you prepared in step 1 into the spice mixture; mix well. Your otak-otak paste is ready.
  5. Soak banana leaves in hot water till softened and wipe dry with kitchen towel before use. Cut to 25x20cm sizes. The longer width must run parallel to the lines of the banana leaf.
  6. Place about 2 ½ tbsp otak-otak paste in the center of the banana leaf.
  7. Fold one edge of the banana leaf to cover the otak paste. You must fold along the lines of the banana leaf and not against, else the banana leaf will crack and break.
  8. Fold the other edge in and press down gently. Use bamboo toothpicks to secure both ends of the otak-otak. Repeat until all the otak-otak paste is used up.
  9. Bake or grill the otak-otak in preheated oven of 200°C (392°F) until the leaves have browned evenly, about10-14 minutes. Tip: Position grill rack close to the top heating coil.

Noob Cook Tips

  1. Note that the lemongrass, kaffir lime and chilli have to be finely chopped (see photo above) before adding to the blender. This will ensure a smooth paste when you grind them.
  2. Fold otak-otak along the lines of the banana leaf and not against, else the banana leaf will crack and break.
  3. Grill the otak-otak on a higher rack in the oven closer to the top heating coils.

Leave a Comment

34 Responses to “Otak-Otak”

  1. Perlink — February 19, 2013 @ 5:32 pm

    I’ve been craving otah for a while since I moved to the US, and ingredients like kaffir lime leaves, belacan and galangal are not available. Nor are banana leaves. I’m sure I can figure something out with the belacan and the kaffir leaves but what about the banana leaf wrapping? I’m positive it lends a lot of aroma and nostalgia (for me at least) but what would you suggest? I was contemplating foil. What do you think?


    • Alba replied: — September 4th, 2015 @ 8:17 am

      Perlink, you can find the banana leaf from Asian Supermarket, they are in a packet and frozen in the huge fridge!


  2. Martin — July 19, 2013 @ 6:44 pm

    I recently went to Malaysia and had Otak-Otak for the first time, loved it and will try to make it myself soon – hopefully I can get all the ingredients here in germany.
    Yoour recipe looks awesome, one question: After preparing the paste, do you have to grill it immediately or can you for example keep it in the fridge for a couple of hours before grilling? (I’d like to do as much prep work as early as possible so I am not stressed out when my guests arrive, but sometimes it’s better to prepare everything as fresh as possible, not sure about Otak-Otak).


  3. Alan — November 4, 2013 @ 8:00 am

    My wife and I missed having otah since we now live in the US. I like your recipe, simple and I think I might be able to get all the ingredients. Does the amount tumeric powder make the color of the otah darker like the ones we get from the hawker centre?


    • wiffy replied: — November 13th, 2013 @ 11:13 am

      actually I think the tumeric makes it more yellow than red. For red, the dried red chilli will make it redder and “darker”.


  4. Alba — September 4, 2015 @ 8:25 am

    Hi, my kids love to eat the non spicy otak. Do you have the recipe for the non spicy otak? If you have, kindly post it to me, so that my kids and I can enjoy both types of otak ( spicy and non spicy )