Otak Otak (Penang Nyonya Style)

by - July 19, 2017

Penang Nyonya Otak Otak is a stemead fish custard wrapped with banana leave.

I love to cook Penang Nyonya food and I was recently inspired by an otak-otak dish served at a Thai Restaurant. Everyone in the family loved it and I decided to attempt the dish. My first attempt was wrapped in the shape like Penang Nyonya style. It turned out to be a very tasty otak-otak and my Mother-in-Law was so impressed she immediately got me another batch of Mackerel fish for another round of Otak-Otak. This time, I folded the banana leaf into a box as a mould for the Otak-Otak.

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Recipe adapted from Nyonya Flavours Cookbook with some modifications.

Yields: 8 otak otak


8 pieces banana leaves (18 cm X 15 cm)
8 toothpick, cut into half
20 to 30 daun kaduk (wild pepper leave)

Custard filling:
350g mackerel fish (hand mashed) – meat from 1 ½ medium size Mackerel fish
1 egg, slightly beaten
2 tbsp rice flour
1 ¼ tsp salt
1 tbsp brown sugar
200ml thick coconut milk
8 kaffir lime leaves, sliced finely

Spices paste (ground):
6 fresh red chillies
100g (10) shallots, peeled
4 cloves garlics, peeled
3 cm lengkuas (galangal), peeled and sliced
4 cm fresh turmeric root, peeled and sliced
2 lemongrass (serai), sliced finely only the bottom white part


1.  Blend all the spices in a food processor. You may add in coconut milk for easy blending.

2.  Place all the custard fillings ingredients and spices paste into a mixing bowl and mix well.

3.  Cover the bowl with clingfilm and marinate in the refrigerator for at least one hour.

4.  Preparing the wrapping:
(a) Cut banana leaf into 18cm X 15 cm rectangles and clean. Make a couple extra just incase.
(b) Scald banana leaf with boiling water to soften the leaf.
(c) Cut and fold the leaf into a box as per the pictures shown above.

5.  Place 2 or 3 pieces of daun kaduk into the prepared box and top with 4 to 5 tablespoons of otak otak filling.

6.  Prepare steamer.

7.  Steam otak otak over high heat for 10 to 15 minutes.

8.  Serve warm with steamed rice.

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