In my opinion, the best invention mankind discovered in this world was the food processor! I love my food processor… can’t think of what I would do without it. Makes and grinds everything in a second and viola! What a happy happy joy joy thing to have in your kitchen and thus comes otak otak on my list today.
Otak otak can be found in Malaysia, Singapore or Indonesia and goes well as a stand alone (with white bread or rice) or as a side dish. I can’t really think of how this dish got it’s name as otak means brain in malay. And otak otak is the plural, thus brains. Could it possibly be because of the texture, being soft, creamy, appetizing? :-s
You can grill, steam, bake or even use your non stick pan to cook it up. Amazing methods of which you find on the internet. Non the less, I wanted to grill this fish paste, as banana leaves becomes more aromatic once you put them on an open fire. And I found a perfect day to do this as a good old Saturday candle-night dinner on my roof terrace on a hot summer night.
Makes about 18 packages
3 filet mackerels
1 big onion (or 4 small shallots)
3 cm Galangal
25 dried chilies
6 Lime leaves – daun limau (thinly sliced)
1 tsp tumeric powder
1 tbsp belachan
5 Buah keras (candlenuts)
2 tbsp oil
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
250ml creamy coconut milk
2 tbsp rice four / cornstarch
2 eggs (beaten)
18-20 Banana leaves 15cm x 25cm (washed in hot water to soften)
Wash the fish, pat dry and chop finely. Put the paste mixture in your food processor and blend until it is very fine. You may want to pre-fry them for the aroma when steaming, but I did not. Grilling will help it out well. Add in the coconut, eggs and fish and mix everything until it becomes a sticky paste. Make sure that your paste is not too watery, otherwise you’ll be having a mess while packing them up.
Put a tablespoon of the mixture in the middle of the banana leave. Take both ends at one side fold it over the mixture. Do the same on the other side. Fix it up with 2 tooth picks at each end.
Grill for about 7 – 10 minutes on each side, taking care not to burn the banana leaves charcoal black like I did 😉