Otak-otak is a popular Indonesian street-food, originated from Palembang, a city in the South-Sumatran island, known for its fish-based delicacies. Since my mum comes from Palembang, I grew up eating and loving those fish-based snacks from Palembang, even though fish has actually never been a preferred palate of mine.
Otak-otak is one Palembangnese snack that I very much enjoy. It is made from fish paste (usually from mackerel), mixed with minced shallots, green onions, egg white, coconut milk and tapioca flour. This mixture is then wrapped in banana leaf and subsequently grilled to perfection.
Making otak-otak at home is actually quite simple. I was rather reluctant to try in the beginning, but my mum told me that it's really very easy, as long as you have a stock of banana leaves and a non-stick pan (yes, you don't need charcoal to grill these sweeties...!)
Ingredients (makes 20)
- 500 g fish paste (mackerel)
- 2 egg whites
- 150 ml coconut milk
- 100 ml water
- 5 shallots / 1 medium red onion, minced
- 4-5 tbs chopped green onions
- 150 g tapioca flour
- 1tbs oyster sauce (optional)
- Salt, pepper and sugar to taste
- Banana leaves for wrapping (cut into 10x10 cm)
- 4 tbs peanut butter
- 100 ml boiling water
- 3-4 tbs sambal oelek
- 2 tbs vinegar
- 3 tbs sweet soy sauce
- 1 tbs lime juice
- Mix the ingredients well (except the banana leaves, of course!).
- Place about 1.5 tbs otak-otak paste in the centre of a 10x10 cm banana leaf.
- Fold the leaf as the pictures above.
- Staple the top and bottom parts of the leaf.
- 'Grill' the otak otak on a non-stick pan (7-8 minutes on each side).
- Simply mix all the ingredients and stir well. That's it. If you want the elaborate version, check this out.
Usually people in Palembang eat their otak-otak with 'cuko' - a spicy sauce made from vinegar, palm sugar, minced garlic and chillies. As I didn't have any palm sugar in stock, I decided to make peanut sauce instead, which is just as tasty...!