Some spell it as Otak-Otak while some spell it as Otah. Whatever it is, this dish is well-loved by many in Singapore and Malaysia.
Here’s a fun fact! Otak means "brains" in Indonesian and Malay. The name of the dish is derived from the idea that the dish resemblance a brain, by being whitish grey, soft and almost squishy.
This traditional and homemade Nonya Otak-Otak is shared by home cook, Molly Leong. She suggested ramping up on the chillies to give your otak-otak an extra punch! With her recipe, forget about a grill pit, you can easily create this dish with a simple wok or pan from home!
How you consume this dish is entirely up to you! You can eat it on its own as a snack or with steamed rice as part of a meal!
Let’s proceed onto making the dish now!
Here are the ingredients required: Spanish mackerel, banana leaves, eggs, coconut milk, sugar, cornflour, salt, chilli paste, red chillies, galangal, lemongrass, Belachan, candlenut, onions, shallots and turmeric.
Firstly, prepare the banana leaves and fish.
Using medium-low fire over the stove, run banana leaves over to soften it. Cut into equal sizes.
De-bone and scrape the meat and skin from the fish.. Set aside a quarter of the portion.
Secondly, prepare the chilli paste and make the otak.
Combine the remaining three-quarter portion of the fish with ingredients for the chilli paste and seasoning into the food processor. Chop it finely.
Pour in thick coconut milk gradually and blend it till it becomes a smooth paste. Here’s an important note - Do not pour in all the coconut milk in at one go as the paste will become too runny.
Add in egg and a quarter of fish meat that was previously set aside. Mix well. At this point, you can still adjust the consistency of the paste as you like it! If the consistency is too thick, mix in two tablespoons of coconut milk at a time.
Thirdly, wrap and grill the otak-otak.
Scoop 100g of otah paste into each banana leaf. Secure it with two toothpicks.
Heat up frying pan and grill the otak-otak for about ten to fifteen mins. Flip accordingly and grill until both asides of the leaves have browned evenly.
To check if it is cooked, press the tong on the otak meat. You know that it is cooked when the otak is firm.
Here you have it! Your very own otak-otak made from scratch. Wasn’t that simple?