Otak Is Not The Name, It Must Be Otak-Otak (鱼肉乌达)



Otak otak or spiced fish cake is not a common item in Sarawak when I was young and therefore, I am not very familiar with this fish cake. After settling down in Singapore,  I have more exposure of this as it was commonly sold in nasi lemak stores, served during parties or barbecue..


I have to be frank that I have never like the the outside version as I found that some are overly creamy, or with too much spices that I do not like. As per friends‘ request, I have decided to try preparing my own and share  the recipe with them..


I have purposely choose a no frill simple recipe that do not require lots of herbs and spices .. I just want a basic simple recipe and I think I have found one that is easy enough and suit my family’s taste buds. What surprised me is my kid who have only tried otak otak for the first time have wanted more for their lunch and dinner.. I think possibly I have adjusted the spices to suit their taste buds. It is not extremely spicy, slightly sweet and a humble down to earth simple flavour mostly comprises of curry powder.


What I am sharing is the basic recipe and if readers wanted to make it a more elaborate version, you can add in as much herbs and spices as you want (as suggested in the conclusion).. Therefore, this recipe targets at those who need an easy and fast recipe. The otak otak may appear to be a bit on the dry side as I have over baked them by almost 5 minutes.. If you follow precisely the timing, the texture will be just right.


As per Wikipedia:

“Otak-otak is a grilled fish cake made of ground fish meat mixed with tapioca starch and spices.It is widely known across Southeast Asia, especially in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, where it is traditionally served fresh, wrapped inside a banana leaf, as well as in many Asian stores internationally — being sold as frozen food. It can be eaten solely as a snack or with steamed rice as part of a meal. Otak means “brains” in Indonesian and Malay, and the name of the dish is derived from the idea that the dish somewhat resembles brains, being whitish grey, soft and almost squishy.[2] Nevertheless, it was only otak-otak from Indonesia that has whitish color, while the otak-otak from Malaysia and Singapore has reddish-orange or brown coloring acquired from chili, turmeric and curry powder.”



Recipe adapted from: Muar Otak-otak 麻坡鱼肉乌挞

Servings: 8-10 depending on sizes (6” x 1.5 “)


  • 400 grams of fish meat (mackerel or batang fish preferred)
  • 200 grams or ml of thick coconut milk

Spices and seasonings

  • 1.5 tablespoons of fish curry powder
  • 1.5 tablespoons of chilli powder
  • 1 tablespoon of white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon of minced lemon grass
  • 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder
  • Pinches of salt


  • 10 pieces of banana leaves cut into 5 inches x 10 inches



PicMonkey Collage1

  • Put the fish meat and all the spices in a food processor and blend until fine. Add in the coconut milk and continue to blend until it resemble a thick paste.

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  • Pre-heat the oven to 200 degree Celsius.

  • Take a piece of banana leaves, take two spoons of the fish paste in the centre of the banana leaf, wrap the fish paste in a rectangular shape, staple both sides and baked in the pre-heated oven of 200 degree Celsius for 10 minutes. Best served hot as a snack or side dish of a meal.



This is a very basic recipe and the spices and herbs suggested are on the low side .. As this is a savoury dish, feel free to increase the quantities of the suggested spices. Other herbs that can be considered are laksa flower, laksa leaves, curry leaves, galangal and etc.. If you do not have an oven, just steamed it for about 10 minutes, you can easily create the effect of burning by placing on top of a hot pan over the stove, pan fry the leaves for a few minutes to let it appears to be burnt.


Hope you like the post today. Cheers and have a nice day.