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Indonesian Grilled Fish Cake Recipe (Otak-Otak)

Updated on March 12, 2012
Otak - Otak  - Indonesian Grilled Fish Cake
Otak - Otak - Indonesian Grilled Fish Cake | Source
Otak-Otak With Chili Paste
Otak-Otak With Chili Paste | Source

Otak-Otak - When I am craving of special "snack of the sea", I find comfort in fish cakes wrapped in banana leaves, a dish made of fish paste, coconut milk, tapioca starch and some spices. The paste then steam and grill into perfection.

Indonesian otak-otak is part of famous otak-otak family in Southeast Asia. This food is popular in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. Unlike Malaysian and Singapore otak-otak, Indonesian otak-otak is very simple and less spicy with no hot chili paste and less aromatic. But do not underestimate, Indonesian otak-otak is very tasty. It is eaten with sweet, savory and spicy sambal kacang (spicy peanut sauce).

Indonesian love to enjoy otak-otak as finger food, snacks, appetizer or part of a meal. If you are visiting Jakarta, it is available in Roxy area (jalan Sangaji). But if you have no chance to visit Jakarta but like to try something new, here is easy otak-otak recipe. I use ready-to-use fish paste from Asian supermarket. It's available for purchase at any oriental stores.

Otak-Otak on the grill
Otak-Otak on the grill | Source

What You Need

Serves 4 - 8


1 lbs fish paste

3/4 cup coconut milk

1 cup tapioca starch

1 1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp sugar

1/4 tsp ground white pepper

4 small shallot (Asian shallot)

3 cloves garlic

2 spring onions, chopped

20 pcs 9 inches x 6 inches banana leaves, cleaned and patted dry


Spicy peanut sauce:

1/2 cup peanut butter

1 1/2 cup water

1 clove garlic, ground

1 small shallot, ground

1 tsp chili paste

1/2 tsp salt

2 tbsp sugar

2 tsp vinegar

How to Fix

  • Use food processor to grind shallot and garlic into fine paste. Set aside.
  • In a mixing bowl, combine fish paste, coconut milk, tapioca flour, shallot and garlic paste, salt, sugar, ground white pepper and spring onions. Stir to mix.
  • Prepare a steamer and bring water in the steamer to a rolling boiling over high heat. Then lower the heat.
  • Take one piece of banana leaf and put 2 teaspoon of the fish mixture on the center. Then roll it into a cylinder shape stick of about 4 inches. Use toothpick to secure both ends. Follow the same procedure with the remaining fish mixture.
  • Put the wrapped fish cake in the steamer. Steam for about 30 minutes or until the paste is cooked and set. Remove from the heat and let it cool.
  • Preheat the grill and grill the otak-otak for about 2 minutes each side or until slightly brown and fragrant. Remove from the grill. Serve it warm with spicy peanut sauce.

Otak-Otak Street Vendor


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    • jojokaya profile image

      jojokaya 5 years ago from USA

      @anglnwu: Thanks. Yes, sometime I make it from fresh fish. Just add egg white and process it into smooth paste then add other ingredients.

    • anglnwu profile image

      anglnwu 5 years ago

      I love otak otak. I wonder if you can make this from fresh pieces of fish instead of fish paste? Thanks for sharing--now, I think I can make it.