Recipe: Nyonya Otak Otak (Steam Fish Parcel in Banana Leaf)

Otak otak is delicately spiced fish mousse, steamed in a banana leaf. The essence of Nyonya cuisine is careful and precise preparation, especially in chopping and blending. If you pay attention to getting the ingredients in exactly the right condition, then making this delicious dish is easy.


600 gms Fish Cutlets or Prawns or Crabmeat

4 to 6 Kaffir Lime Leaves

30 Wild Pepper Leaves or Basil Leaves

2 eggs

100 gms Coconut Cream

12 to 14 Banana Leaf sheets

for the spice paste:

6 to 8 Dried Chilli (break to 4 pieces then soak)

4 Fresh Red Chilli (wash and break to small pieces)

4 stalks Lemon Grass, cut head and remove off the loose leaves, soak.

20 gms Shallots or Onions, peel the skin and slice thinly.

4 cloves Garlic, crushed

10 gms Galangal, cut finely

2 cm Fresh Turmeric, cut finely

10 gms Shrimp Paste

2 Heaped Tbsp Glutinous Rice Flour

Mix Into Fish Paste After Blending

1 tsp White Pepper Powder

1 tsp Sugar

1 tsp Salt

Methods: (Assembling the Otak Otak)

Scald banana leaf in boiling water to soften it and pat it dry. You may need to trim your leaf but be careful not to break it. If you don’t have banana leaves to hand, you could assemble the otak otak in a small ramekin.

Wash gently and pat dry fish. In a bowl, pour in the blended otak otak paste. Add seasonings, cooked fish, egg, kaffir lime strips and coconut cream. Mix well till smooth.Slice thinly kaffir lime leaves. Wash and pat dry Wild Pepper leaves. Place a few of them on the prepared banana leaf and then lay the fish on top with the kaffir lime leaves.

Now fold the banana leaf carefully so that the otak otak paste won’t escape. Bring the shorter sides to the  middle and then bring each end to the middle in turn.  Fold the flaps outwards so your parcel is secure.  Pour in the otak otak paste.

Steam the parcel for 15 minutes, turn off heat and rest without opening lid for half hour.

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