Otak-Otak: Grilled Fish Cake in Banana Leaves

In the world of Asian cuisine, there are countless hidden gems waiting to be discovered by curious food enthusiasts. One particular dish that stands out is Otak-Otak, a delectable grilled fish cake in banana leaves. Originating from Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore, this flavorful dish brings together fresh fish, vibrant spices, and the subtle aroma of banana leaves to create a truly unique culinary experience. Whether it’s served as a snack, appetizer, or even as a main course, Otak-Otak is sure to leave a lasting impression on your taste buds.

Otak-Otak: Grilled Fish Cake in Banana Leaves


  • 500g boneless fish fillet (preferably mackerel)
  • 2 stalks of lemongrass, finely chopped
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 red chilies, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon of ground coriander
  • 1/4 cup of coconut milk
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup of tapioca flour
  • Banana leaves for wrapping
  • Wooden skewers or toothpicks for securing the wraps

Cooking Steps

  • Thoroughly clean the fish fillets and cut them into small pieces. Place them in a food processor and blend until smooth.
  • In a separate bowl, combine the lemongrass, shallot, garlic, chilies, fish sauce, sugar, turmeric, and coriander to create the spice mixture.
  • Add the spice mixture to the fish paste in the food processor and blend until well combined.
  • Transfer the fish and spice mixture to a large bowl, then add the coconut milk, beaten egg, kaffir lime leaves, and tapioca flour. Mix well to form a thick paste.
  • Cut the banana leaves into rectangles measuring approximately 15×20 cm. Spread a thin layer of the fish paste onto each leaf, then fold the sides over to create a sealed package. Secure the package with wooden skewers or toothpicks.
  • Preheat a grill or barbecue to medium heat. Cook the Otak-Otak packages for 5-7 minutes on each side, or until the fish paste is fully cooked and the banana leaves are slightly charred.
  • Allow the Otak-Otak to cool slightly before unwrapping and serving with your choice of dipping sauce or side dishes.

In conclusion, Otak-Otak is a delicious and exotic dish that showcases the rich flavors and unique cooking techniques of Southeast Asia. Its blend of fresh ingredients and aromatic spices make it a must-try for anyone looking to expand their culinary horizons. When selecting ingredients, it’s important to choose fresh fish and high-quality spices to ensure the best possible flavor. Additionally, using fresh banana leaves is crucial, as they impart a distinctive fragrance to the dish. So go ahead and impress your friends and family with this delightful grilled fish cake in banana leaves, and let the flavors of Southeast Asia transport you to a world of gastronomic delight.

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