Papa’s otak otak were a hit with everyone during CNY. Generous with mackerel and prawn, they were gone as soon as he took each carefully wrapped banana leaf parcel off the grill and declared it ready to eat. Piping hot, fingers were quick to pull out the guarding toothpicks to unveil thick orangey otak unclosed within slightly charred leaves. Every bite was quickly devoured followed by, as if on cue, hissing to drown off the spice and cool down the mouth.
One parcel after another, as quickly as he could, were wrapped and plopped onto the grill. Soon, nephews, niece-in-law and grand nephews stood by the table to help. Appetites were ferocious that day. Rightly so when my Papa is out to feed.
We made Otak Otak again today, father and daughter.. just the 2 of us in the kitchen. With valuable instructions and a keen eye watching and learning, Saturday could not be better spent.
Otak Otak Recipe
1.5kg Mackerel (Ikan Tengerri)
2 Large Red Onions, chopped
1 1/2 thumbsize Galangal, sliced
15 Dried Chillies, pre-soaked in hot water
10 Chillies, chopped
1 1/2 Tbsp Belachan
1 1/2 thumbsize Tumeric, sliced
100 – 200ml Water to get the blending process going
1 packet Coconut Cream
3 tbsp Sugar
2 tbsp salt
3 tbsp cooking oil
2 tbsp toasted coriander seeds, pounded into powder
2 Lime Leaves, finely sliced
4 Tumeric Leaves, finely sliced
Click on photos to see larger image
1. Prepare fish meat. Fillet the fish. Scrape meat off the bones.
2. Pound the fish meat (add water & salt) into a pulp / sticky paste. I will do this one day before and keep it in the freezer as it requires quite a bit of effort.
3. Peel shell off prawns and chop up meat. Keep with fish meat in the freezer.
4. Wash and clean banana leaves and cut into ready size for wrapping.
5. Blend ingredients A in a blender.
6. Add in ingredients B and the fish and prawn meat.
7. Mix everything together.
8. Spoon a high 1 tbsp of mixture onto the leaf.
9. Fold in both sides into the centre, enclosing the otak filling.
10. Secure with toothpicks on both ends. Snip of extra leaf at the end after securing.
11. Place on top of grill bottom side first for 6-8 mins then flip over. Check and repeat till cooked (when firmed up).
Recipe adapted from Mrs Leong Yee Soon’s Cookbook ‘Singapore Cooking’ – Otak Otak Panggang