My version of fish otak

This is my first attempt at making fish otak and definitely inspired by Poh from the Australian Masterchef series. I am still trying to get over the fact that she didn’t win. But despite it all, she is still a winner to me. It seems that she has offers from chefs to work in their kitchen and even a photoshoot with Who magazine. She looks so glamourous and what a change from the heat in the kitchen. :) :) :)

Alright back to my dish. Did a little research and came up with my own version as usual. Fish Otak is very popular in Singapore & Malaysia. I remember growing up buying &  eating spicy grilled fish otak from the roadside Malay mamak and just eating it there and then.Reminancing it, I can almost feel and taste the char flavoured from the makeshift charcoal grill and the spicy fish mixture generously wrapped in the banana leaf and held by toothpicks at each end. There are a couple of options – mild or very hot. Guess which I choose all the time. ;)

I decided not to grill it and instead to cook it in a water bath in the oven. And I didn’t make a fish mousse. My version has left the fish in nice bite size chunks. It was a last minute decision and therefore I could not find Ling (the fish that Poh used) or spanish mackeral. I decided to use trevally and I was quite sure it will work as I use it for making fish balls/ cakes.

My version of fish otak

My version of fish otak

Ingredients (Serves 4)

  1. Galanga (about 2cm)
  2. 2 tbsp belacan (you can make fresh belacan from onions, red chillis, dried shrimps, squeeze of fresh lime)
  3. 2 stalks of lemongrass
  4. 2 tsp of grounded coriander (toast it first and then pound to get maximium flavour)
  5. 1 tsp grounded white pepper
  6. 3 fresh chillies (1 or 2 if you prefer it mild)
  7. 3 cloves of garlic
  8. 2 medium shallots
  9. 3 spring onion ends (white part)
  10. 6 – 8 macadamia nuts (candlenuts will be better if you can find it)
  11. 3 kafir lime leaves (destem and you can replace this with lemon zest)
  12. 1 small bunch of Vietnamese mint leaves
  13. 1 tsp of tumeric
  14. 1 tbsp cornflour
  15. 1 egg
  16. 200ml cocoonut milk (Thai coconut milk if you can find it)
  17. Fish sauce
  18. 700g of Trevally fillets


  • Prepare the fillet first. You can get the fishmonger to skin the fillets for you or like me, use a soup spoon and scrap the flesh from the skin. I wanted my version to be quite chunky so I ‘cleavered’ it slightly
  • Heat oven to 180°. Boil some water and line the bottom of the tray with paper towel or cloth towel
  • Use ingredients from 1 to 15 and blend it
  • Pour the coconut milk into the mixture and blend it further
  • Taste and season with fish sauce accordingly. And add more pepper if required
  • Add the spicy paste with the chunky fish and mix it well
  • Scope the spicy fish mixture into ramekins and place them on top of the paper towel and water the hot water into the tray
  • Place it in the oven and allow it to bake for about 20 – 25mins
  • Serve hot!

It is really simple to make. Don’t be turned off by the long list of ingredients. These ingredients can be found in asian grocery shops. I am sure that I will be making fish otak mixture for BBQs in summer! Perfect crowd pleaser :)