30mins Easy Homemade Otak-Otak (Peranakan Style)

Otak-otak is a peranakan delicacy well-loved by many. It is an appetising snack of fish paste mixed with an aromatic blend of fresh herbs and spices. Traditionally, the seasoned fish mixture is wrapped in coconut leaves, then grilled over charcoal. However, these days, we often only see the banana leaf version. Besides acting as wrappers, the leaves infuse additional fragrance and help to retain moisture of the cooked otak-otak.

This recipe is simple, quick and can even serve as a fun activity for children. With a food chopper/processor, you can make your otak-otak at home in under 30 minutes!

P.S. Love otak-otak but do not have access to a bbq grill? You can oven-bake them too ;)

Serves 4


Chilli Paste

· 30 g dried chillies seeds removed

· 30g lemongrass (soft part only)

· 4 kaffir lime leaves

· 250 g shallots

· 25g galangal

· 10 candlenuts

· 20g belacan

· 1 tbsp turmeric powder

· ⅓ cup oil

· 1 tbsp coriander powder

· 1 tbsp sugar

· 1 tsp salt

Otak-Otak Paste

· 400g spanish mackerel (batang) / spotted spanish mackerel (beh kah)

· 200g of peeled live tiger prawns (optional but is a great addition for a chunkier texture!)

· 2 eggs

· 100 ml coconut milk (preferably Kara brand)

· 20g corn starch (optional)

· Oil for banana leaf

· 12 banana leaves (26 cm by 18 cm)

· 24 x toothpick


· Remove seeds from 30g dried chillies and soak in hot water for 30 mins

· Slice 30g lemongrass finely

· Slice 4 kaffir lime leaves into thin strips

· Add rehydrated chillies to food processor, together with 250g shallots, 25g galangal, sliced lemongrass, 10 candlenuts, 20g belacan, 1 tbsp turmeric powder and blend into a fine paste

· Add paste to a pan heated with 1/3 cup oil

· Add 1 tbsp coriander powder, 1 tbsp sugar, 1 tsp salt, and stir fry till oil starts to split

· Set aside and let it cool down to room temperature

· Add 400g of batang fish meat into food processor, with 200g of peeled prawns and blend into paste

· Add 2 eggs, 100g coconut milk, all of the spice paste, kaffir lime leaves, corn starch (optional) and blend them all together

· If paste feels dry, add more coconut milk and/or water

· Brush oil on the dull side of a pre-cut banana leaf

· Add 2 spoons of paste in the center, and fold the sides of the banana leaf

· Secure both ends of the leaf with toothpicks

· Cook them on the grill for 5-6 mins on each side or bake in a preheated oven at 200 degree Celsius for 15 mins until the leaves are browned and otak-otak cooked through

· Leftover paste can be kept in a air-tight container/bag and freezed


· Always remember to slice ingredients, especially lemon grass and galangal, before blending

· To extract the soft part of lemon grass, make a slice across the stalk and remove the outer layer tough layer

· This recipe is not suitable for steaming

This recipe is adapted from The MeatMen and modified.

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