I can’t believe I actually “peng otak-otak” at home, but I really did.
Otak-otak (otah-otah) is a South East Asian delight, popular in Singapore, Malaysia & Indonesia, and consist of fish paste with spices wrapped & grilled in fragrant banana leaves.
My family loves my home-made otak-otak because of the fresh fish used in the fish paste mixture. If your family do not take chilli, you can make your own non-spicy version. It is great as a snack on its own, or served with Nasi Lemak (local rice cooked in coconut milk). Instead of grilling them the conventional way over a charcoal fire which really smokes and stinks the kitchen, I do so in the oven and the result is great. You can also add prawn, fish head or squid bits to make different varieties of otak-otak.
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
(A) Otak-Otak Spices
150 grams shallots peeled
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
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.
Add (A) in an electric blender. Grind until you get a smooth paste.
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.
Return fish meat you prepared in step 1 into the spice mixture; mix well. Your otak-otak paste is ready.
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.
Place about 2 ½ tbsp otak-otak paste in the center of the banana leaf.
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.
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.
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
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.
Fold otak-otak along the lines of the banana leaf and not against, else the banana leaf will crack and break.
Grill the otak-otak on a higher rack in the oven closer to the top heating coils.