[Recipe] How to Make Otah Otah

How to make Otah Otah - Fish paste wrapped in banana leaves and grilled

Otah Otah is a very popular item at BBQ parties. It is fragrant and light, so you can down a few of these easily without feeling like throwing up. It goes well with plain rice, wrapped in bread, fried noodles, anything that you fancy.

Something that tastes so good with its complex layers of flavours might be difficult to prepare, you might think. But its not as difficult as you think. The difficult part is in getting all the ingredients together, thereafter, preparing them is a breeze.

The most difficult ingredient to find / make yourself is perhaps the fish paste. It is a tedious process, so I highly recommend that you go the easy way and buy it from the market stalls. However, if you still want to be gung-ho, you can visit this link which gives a rather good picture by picture instructional guide to making fish paste. It might be a good deterrent and help to change your mind about going DIY.

Otah Paste
Handful of Red Chillies (depending on your spice tolerance level)
Handful of Dried Chillies, to prepare them, soak in hot water for about 20 mins and then drain them
120g peeled shallots (small red onions)
2 Candlenuts (Buah Keras) - these nuts are toxic when raw, do cook them well before consuming
20g Blue Ginger (Galangal)
2 destalked Kaffir Lime Leaves (a bit harder to find, but sometimes you can get it from Sheng Siong. A huge packet goes for about a dollar, more than what you need here, you can keep the rest for making Tom Yum Goong, which I might feature in a later post)2 Tumeric Leaves
10g of dried shrimp paste (Belacan)
Candlenuts / Buah Keras

Kaffir Lime Leaves

Picture from http://www.hub-uk.com/vegetables/galangal.htm

Blend all the above using a food processor till it turns into a pasty texture and add them to a bowl with the following ingredients below and mix it to form a thick paste.

Otah Meat
Half a kg of fish paste made from white fish - Mackeral, Catfish, Saito, etc - can find them in wet markets - try the fish ball stalls.
A dash of Tumeric powder - buy from Sheng Siong (1 small packet $0.30)
A dash of Salt & Sugar
A packet of thick Coconut Milk (can buy those small ready made packets)
An egg
Some cornflour

After mixing them, cover the bowl with cling wrap and let it sit in the fridge for 2 hours.

Meanwhile, sit down and cut the banana leaves into squares of about 15cm.

Once the fish paste is ready, take a dollop of it and plonk it into the middle of the squarish banana leaf. Then fold up the two sides of the leaf to wrap over the paste. Secure it by poking toothpicks at both ends like this :-
Otah Otah

Then send them to the BBQ grill and grill them to perfection. When its cooked, it should be in one piece and taken the shape of the banana leaf, instead of still in paste form. If you don't have a BBQ fire, use your oven toaster to toast it for about 8-10 minutes, making sure the leaves don't get too burnt. A little burnt like this picture here is fine.
"If no toaster how?", you may ask. Well, the last resort is to steam it but then you lose the kick of a chargrilled banana leaf smell.

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