Makes 14 to 15 parcels MEDIUM
A tasty spicy treat that’s good with steamed coconut rice aka nasi lemak, in a sandwich or just on its own.
500g white fish fillets, skinned and deboned
125ml thick coconut milk
1 tsp salt
1½ tsp sugar
½ tsp white pepper
Banana leaf, cut into 14 to 15 pieces (each measuring 16-cm x 24-cm)
For the seasoning paste
1½ medium onion, chopped
6 dried chillies, cut into 2-cm lengths, soaked to soften
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1-cm knob fresh turmeric, sliced, alternatively use ½ tsp turmeric powder
3 candlenuts, chopped
1 stalk lemongrass, thinly sliced
1 tbsp chopped polygonum leaves
1½ tsp coriander seeds, lightly toasted and ground
1. Prepare the seasoning paste. Combine all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse to obtain a fine, smooth paste, adding a little of the coconut milk if needed to keep the blades turning. Set aside.
2. Cut the fish into cubes, then pulse in a food processor until coarsely minced. Add the coconut milk, salt, sugar, pepper and seasoning paste and pulse to obtain a smooth paste. If possible, refrigerate for at least 30 mins to firm up the mixture before use.
3. Soften the pieces of banana leaf by holding above a gas flame, or soaking in boiling water until softened.
4. To make a parcel, place a piece of leaf lengthways and dark, shiny side down on the working surface. Add about 2 heaped tbsp of the fish mixture, flattening it slightly to make it about 1-cm thick. Fold the leaf over a few times to firmly enclose the filling, and secure both ends with toothpicks. Repeat until the fish mixture is used up.
5. Grill, preferably over charcoal, for 3 to 4 mins on each side. Serve with rice or as a snack; the otah otah can even be used as a sandwich filling.
Tip: The otah otah can be kept in a plastic box and stored in the freezer for up to a month. To serve, thaw completely before grilling.