Sunday, March 29, 2009


I made my first otak-otak 2 weekends ago. My colleagues were organising a potluck gathering, so I decided to make otak-otak. Why otak-otak? Because it's quite easy and I have my MIL to ask for advice - she made great otak-otak.

Since it's hard to do the marketing during the weekends with the children around, we went to get the ingredients ready during one of the weekdays lunch time. I decided to try my luck at one of the markets that I knew which opened during the afternoon. But it's still too early, the spices' stall was not opened yet. Still, we managed to get the other ingredients, everything except for the spices and also santan (thick coconut milk).

Somehow on the day itself, MIL was not around to help me. She was not feeling too well so she went back to her house to rest. I got the verbal instructions from her, and made a mental note on the steps. Luckily I have bought the spices and santan myself the day before so I was not that panicky. Since I got it one day earlier, I was advised by the seller to freeze the santan or it'll go bad.

Come Sunday, I was counting on my baby to sleep so that I could start work soon. I was not too worried about Sze Yi as she was big enough to join me. However, Sze Juin just wouldn't want to sleep, especially with her sister around. It was already 3.30pm, and the gathering would be starting at 6pm. Luckily hubby took the kids out for a drive, so I quickly get to work. Halfway thru, they came back. And Sze Juin wanted me to carry her. I had no choice but to carry her in one hand, and instructed Sze Yi to help me mix those ingredients, helping her with the other hand at the same time. She enjoyed it, but initially, she was reluctant to mix them with her hands. She said, "Ei.. it's so dirty, I don't want, I don't want". I needed to reassure her that it's ok, we can wash our hands later, and then she started to work. She didn't get to see the final result yet because we needed to steam for awhile. I sent her for her afternoon nap then.

If you're interested to know the recipe, here it is. But please bear in mind that this is purely my version (or how I interpretted from my MIL's verbal instructions - no recipe and no measurements on the actual amount. It was really a good trial for me. Luckily it turned out quite ok.

i. Clean the pointed pepper leaves (daun Kaduk) and Kaffir lime leaves (daun limau purut). Sliced the Kaffir lime leaves into very small pieces (I was told to roll the leaves and cut it with scissors into very thin strips). In case you haven't seen them, here's how it looks like (the daun Kaduk is the bigger one on the left, while the daun limau purut is the smaller leaves on the right):

ii. Layer the base of the tray with the daun Kaduk.
iii. Add the spices with eggs, santan, pepper and the daun limau purut, and mix them until even. (I get RM1.50 otak-otak spices from the market, mixed it with 2/3 eggs and 50cent santan per tray).
iv. Add the fish in (I used baby shark here, cut them into small slices).
v. Steam for 20 minutes.

And viola! Here's what I got.

How did it taste? Hubby said it's quite a success, considering it was my first time (ahem!). I didn't really get to taste it in advance since I wouldn't want to spoil the appearance by cutting a small slice so I just served on the spot. My colleagues were rather surprised when I told them I haven't really tasted it, but they reassured me it was ok. Well, it was not as tasty as I had hoped, but it's really ok. Or so I thought. Either that, or my colleagues were being nice to me.

When I let MIL tried it the day after, her first remarks was, "Why you didn't add salt and sugar ah?" Bingo! It didn't occur to me that the otak-otak spices didn't have enough salt or sugar, and I didn't taste it raw before I sent them in to steam. But, to hubby it's still very nice because he prefers his food plain, and I've been cooking my daughters porridge without salt and sugar too. Hmmm.... lesson learnt! I should have added this step then:

vi. Add salt and sugar to taste.

But still, it was an experience which I was rather happy with, especially for being able to let my daughter had some hands-on experience in the kitchen.


Pet said...

woooo, so nice, looking at it makes me hungry!!

My dad makes great otak-otak too, but he likes to put in squid!

little prince's mummy said...

Wow!! yummy!!!!!
So long never eat otak-otak..


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