Cooking restaurant quality Fish Cakes in Banana Leaves [Otak Otak] – Complete Recipe

A delicious appetizer of spiced fish enclosed in banana leaves and cooked over coals, often sold at street stalls in Indonesia and Malaysia. They are easily made with the help of a food processor. Aluminium foil can replace the banana leaves. If not using a barbecue, cook them under a preheated grill.

Otak Otak Si Dia

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Makes 12 parcels

  • 400 g (14 oz) boneless white fish fillets
  • 3 tablespoons spice paste as in Laksa Lemak (see page 48) or
  • Reuben SolomonÕs Singapore Laksa Paste
  • 3 tablespoons coconut milk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 red chilli, seeded and sliced
  • finely grated zest of 1 lime
  • banana leaves

Slice the fish fillets and put into a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Mix together the Laksa paste, coconut milk and egg. Process until the fish is finely chopped, adding the other ingredients through the feed tube until a well combined mass forms. With a spatula, transfer the fish paste to a bowl and mix in the chilli and lime zest. Wash the banana leaf and use a sharp knife to remove the thick centre rib. Cut the leaf into rectangles large enough to enclose a generous tablespoon of fish paste. To prevent the banana leaf splitting when folded, pass it over a gas flame or put it under an electric grill until it becomes pliable.


With a wet tablespoon, put heaped tablespoons of fish paste in the centre of each piece of banana leaf. Fold the leaf over to completely enclose the paste and flatten to less than 1 cm (½ in) thick. Fasten the ends with toothpicks. If banana leaves are not available, use a double layer of aluminum foil, shiny side in. When the parcels are all made, cook over a barbecue or under a griller until the fish paste is firm and cooked through, about 6 minutes on each side. Serve in the wrapping, which is removed before eating.

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