OTAK-OTAK

SALT Magazine - - Chef Quickie -

TESTED BY ARISTA KWEK

EASY BUT TE­DIOUS

2 HOURS

TIME-CON­SUM­ING, BUT WORTH IT

Have a weigh­ing scale with you, and use a food pro­ces­sor. Abide by th­ese two golden rules, and you’ll have an en­joy­able time mak­ing and eat­ing th­ese otak-otak. Oh, and wear gloves when de­seed­ing the chill­ies (though they’re dried chill­ies, the burn is real). Also, don’t try to es­ti­mate the quan­ti­ties in this recipe if you’re do­ing it for the first time—the pre­cise mea­sure­ments given should yield a very tasty dish if you fol­low them. I didn’t, and used way more dried chill­ies than I should have, which made the otak-otak much too spicy, but still very de­li­cious.

Since we only had a hand-held im­mer­sion blender in­stead of a food pro­ces­sor, it took quite a while to turn the chunks of fish and prawn into a paste. Apart from th­ese po­ten­tial bumps along the road, this recipe is ac­tu­ally pretty sim­ple—blend up the rem­pah (spice paste), fry it, blend it with the fish and prawn, wrap the spiced fish paste in ba­nana leaves, and then grill the parcels.

Feel­ing pen­sive about wrap­ping the paste in the ba­nana leaves? Don’t be. There is no need for any in­tri­cate smear­ing or shap­ing of the paste. Just dol­lop two spoon­fuls of paste in and fold the two lengths of the ba­nana leaf to­gether (watch­ing MeatMen’s Youtube video, and choos­ing leaves with lit­tle to no tears re­ally helps, as I dis­cov­ered far too late). Cook­ing the otako­tak over an open flame, or in an oven at 180°C also works if you don’t own a grill of some sort.

This is the kind of recipe that is al­ready per­fect, yet also makes a great launchpad for cre­at­ing an otako­tak that suits your pref­er­ences—end­less com­bi­na­tions of seafood can be used, such as squid, cod, or even beh kah fish (Span­ish spot­ted mack­erel) rather than the batang fish (Span­ish mack­erel) called for in the recipe, for those who pre­fer their otak-otak with a firmer tex­ture and vis­i­ble chunks of fish flesh, as the beh kah tends to break up into a chunkier paste.

Give a woman an otak-otak and you feed her for a day; teach her how to make it and she will feed ev­ery­one with end­less vari­a­tions for a life­time.

Cooked by SALT

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