Posted by: hyacinthus | November 28, 2009

Baked Otak or Baked Spicy Fish in Banana Leaves

I’ve always wanted to try making otaks (baked spicy fish paste in banana leaves) myself.

Its list of ingredients looked daunting enough for me to try though! After years of procrastination (also lack of time), I’ve finally did it! 🙂

This is the otak I made today. Doesn’t look as orange-red as it is supposed to be. That’s because I have misread the recipe and halved weight of coconut instead of coconut milk! Double amount of coconut milk was used. I was using Kara coconut cream… 😦

Anyway, here’s the correct recipe 🙂

Ingredients (36 sticks)

285ml coconut milk (Extract from 680g coconut or buy ready ones from supermarket)
1.2kg Spanish Mackerel
170ml (¾cup) Water
Pinch of Salt
2 Eggs, lightly beaten
2 leaves of Kaffir Lime Leaves (finely sliced)
4 leaves of Tumeric Leaves (finely sliced)
36 “22x20cm” Sheets of Banana Leaves (Washed and Scalded)

Paste Mixture

225g Shallots (peeled)
30 Slices of Galangal (Blue Ginger – 85g)
5 Crushed Candlenuts
25 dried chillies (soaked to soften)
1 Tbsp Shrimp Paste (Belacan)
20g Tumeric (Peeled)


3 Tbsp Sugar
2 Tbsp Salt
3 Tbsp Peanut Oil
2 tsp Coriander Powder


1. Grind Paste Mixture till smooth and set aside.

2. Mince 60% of the Mackerel you have and sliced the remaining 40% thinly. (I have problems getting Spanish mackerels from my wet market and NTUC nearby. So, it was replaced with Halibut Fillets (practically boneless!)… I think it’s a bad substitute cos the otak had “powdery taste”)

3. Add water and salt to the minced fish and mix till a sticky paste is formed.

4. Add coconut milk and egg to the fish paste and blend well. (That’s where I had gone wrong with the coconut milk measurements resulting a not-so-spicy otak)

5. Add the paste mixture and seasoning to blend. Add fish, sliced tumeric leaves and Kaffir lime leaves into the mixture. Mix well.

6. Place 2 tbsps of the fish paste in the middle of each banana leave, fold left and right lengthwise, top and bottom widthwise, then fasten with toothpicks as shown below 🙂

7. When ready, bake them in the oven at 200ºC for 10min on each side.

Tada! It’s completed.

Best eaten with plain white bread or Thai Jasmine rice 🙂



  1. oooooh looks oh so good!
    im gonna try this.

  2. Try and let me know how is it? You might want to add more chilli if you like it spicy! 😀

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