Otak Otak recipe

15 Oct

I am re-posting this recipe as I didn’t like the previous photo.  Suz has taken another photo.  It was featured in an earlier post. (Otak Otak old pix).

Otak means brains in Malay and Indonesian.  It is also known as Otah Otah and the name of derived from the name of the dish is derived from the idea that the dish somewhat resembles brains, being on the soft and squishy side  (wiki).  Best eaten as a snack, or bread.  I prefer to have it with rice 😀

Here’s the recipe:
500 grams fish fillet (cut into thin strips)
5 kaffir leaves (slice finely)
20 betel leaves (optional cos you can only get them in tropical climate)
4 big eggs
200mls thick coconut milk (can substitute with canned coconut milk)

Curry mixture:
1 Tablespoon chilly powder
30 grams mince lemon grass
5 grams of mince blue ginger
15 grams minced garlic
45 grams minced onion
15 grams of fresh tumeric (1 teaspoon dried tumeric)
15 grams shrimp paste
15 grams rice flour
6 grams pepper
10 grams salt
10 grams sugar

Mix all the curry mix together then stir in the kaffir leaves, coconut milk, eggs and sliced fish.

In Malaysia where we have banana leaves and betel leaves in abundance, we take the opportunity to wrap up like a small parcel which resembles a ‘hand bag’.

The other easier way of cooking the otak otak is to pour the curry mix into a 2 to 3 inch deep flat casserole with the sliced fish and steam it for 20 minutes.

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22 Responses to Otak Otak recipe


Eunice Choo

January 1st, 2009 at 12:32 am

Lovely! Fantastic! Ho Chek! Made it yesterday for New Year’s Eve pot luck party and compliments were over flowing!


Keith Ooi

April 17th, 2009 at 5:20 pm

Dear Madam Kwong:
I am living in Singapore, and the vendors seem to be ignorant of the ‘Betel Leaves’. In Penang, my mum called it “sn’ua lau hioh”.
I bought the leaves from the market here and they gave me the ones people used for chewing with betel nuts instead! My otah turned out a disaster.
Is there a malay word for the betel leaves?



April 19th, 2009 at 6:26 pm

Hi Keith… in Malay it is called “Daun Gado”. correct me if I’m wrong. Hope that helps.



May 15th, 2009 at 5:38 am

The ‘Sua Lau Hiok’ is known in Malay as Daun Kadok. Kadok is confused with Betel Leaves aka Daun Sireh. Daun Kadok is more fragrant than Daun Sireh.



June 30th, 2009 at 7:46 pm

Keith, kaduk leaves or wild pepper leaves are abundant in singapore but not sold at any markets because they are relatively ‘unknown’ in singapore. However, they are grown by National Parks Board at Changi Airport, East Coast Park and several other public places. Go take a look and pluck a few leaves. I don’t think NPB would mind. I have two pots of Kaduk plants for my otah. Seek and you shall find! Cheers!



October 31st, 2009 at 9:22 pm

Stumbled upon your blog and love it.. will come back for more :)



June 21st, 2010 at 1:49 am

what is blue ginger and where can i find it ?



June 21st, 2010 at 8:54 pm

Blue ginger is galangal or in Malay, lengkuas. I am not too sure where you live but in Australia, we can get them freshly grated, in powder form or fresh galangal in big Asian supermarket. To see what galangal looks like click on this link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galangal



March 6th, 2011 at 1:39 am

Dear Madam Kwong,
Thanks for sharing these lovely recipes. What kind of fish would you suggest to use for this recipe?



March 6th, 2011 at 7:17 pm

Hi puiyuee, I suggest that you use some fleshy/meaty fish like Dory. Good luck~



April 18th, 2011 at 1:11 pm

mdm kwong, thanks so much for sharing your experience and recipes!! your photos are wonderful too !
we really appreciate your great efforts!!i use ikan parang (sie tur hie) for the otak, it tastes best compares
to other type of fish.


Rachel Lim

April 20th, 2011 at 8:26 pm

Dear Madam Kwong, thanks for sharing the recipe. What fish do you recommend that I use to make otak otak? Thank you.



April 21st, 2011 at 9:18 am

Hi Rachel, use any fleshy/meaty fish like Dory. Good Luck~



April 25th, 2011 at 11:31 pm

Thanks for prompt reply. There’s only frozen dory fish available and they kinda have a teeny weeny bit of ‘fishy’ smell. If I wanna use fresh fish, what type would you recommend? I’d prefer fish with as less bones as possible :) Thank you,.



May 24th, 2011 at 12:28 am

23.Mei.2011 ,Hi ,Madam Kwong.Can you pPs explain to me What are this kaffir leaves ,betel leaves ,blue ginger.All this things in English ,I dont understand,Can u Pls said in Bahasa Melayu,Pls .thank you so much ,love you .Gbu



June 27th, 2011 at 1:12 am

Hi! I have all the ingredients almost except shrimp paste…what is it in Malay? Thanks for clearing the air on betel leaves, i was also a little curious if it was daun kadok or some people say kodok which i will try to hunt down around the neighbourhood along with banana leaves. Hope some good samaritans will spare me some without much fuss. I am a novice when it comes to fishes so dory suits me fine…all cleaned and ready to use from the supermarket. Shall explore this site for more devilishous recipes. Yummy! Can’t wait to try this first!



June 27th, 2011 at 8:31 am

Hi Shaz,

Shrimp paste is belachan. Hope that helps~



June 30th, 2011 at 10:35 pm

oh belacan!i do hv it shrimp paste heheh



August 18th, 2011 at 1:56 am

Hi Mdm Kwong,

I ate your otak2 for the first time and fell in love with it! :). Can you please teach me on how to wrap or form a parcel for the otak2 using the banana leaves? and another thing how many parcels can be made with the recipe above? If i want to make a big batch do i just double or triple the ingredients?

Thank u. :)



August 18th, 2011 at 6:35 am

Hi Madhu, gladly to but will have to take photos of the steps. As for the recipe, if you like to make a big batch double up the ingredients. Good luck!


Funfact: Otak « HTH – Home To Heritage

August 23rd, 2011 at 11:48 pm

[…] pop down to a Pasar Malam near you and try one for yourself! If not, [link] provides a recipe for Otak that you may attempt and try for yourself the true Singapore […]



August 30th, 2011 at 4:01 pm

I am living in Auckland, New Zealand now. Does anyone know whether I can get Betel leaves here and what would it be called in Mandarin as there are some Asian supermarkets I can check with. If not can I substitute it for some other leafy veg?

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