Malaysian Three Course Menu- Part 1: Otak-Otak

Two years ago, my significant  other and I made a trip to South East Asia. We were influenced by the cultural richness, the beautiful nature but also, perhaps above all, the food. Whilst in Malaysia, we visited a cooking course in order to learn directly from the natives about their traditional, authentic cuisine. Our cooking class at LaZat is even today, one of the most precious memories of our trip. We chose their Wednesday class, which involved cooking Malay/Nyonya specialties, but we also participated in a guided market tour together with one of the class teachers. The colors of fruit and vegetables was mesmerizing and the diversity was huge.

The cooking itself took place in a beautiful setting and location, in a Malaysian home environment and the three course menu was splendid. We made and ate the following dishes:

  1. Starter: Otak-Otak/Fish with Spices and Herbs in Banana Leaves
  2. Main course: Kari Ayam/Chicken Curry
  3. Dessert: Onde Onde/Palm Sugar in Glutinous Balls

I have recooked all of the dishes at home and the ingredients were all easy to find in Asian groceries.

Otak Otak/ Fish with spices and herbs in banana leaves

Serves 4 | Time needed ~ 40 min

2 stalks of lemon grass, sliced
2 big red chillies, sliced
6 small onions, peeled and halved
80 g white fish fillet, sliced in bite sizes
1 egg, beaten lightly
1/2 tsp curry powder
2 tbsp coconut milk
1 tsp tamarind paste
1 kaffir lime leaf, shredded
5 kaduk leaves, one shredded and four to place as a base in each banana leaf.
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
4 pcs banana leaves squares , each 23 x 23 cm

  1. Clean and soften the banana leaves by running them over a flame before use (this is to avoid the leaves from tearing). Set aside.
  2. Make a spice paste by running the lemongrass, chillies and onions in a food processor.
    • 2013_09_25-Malaysia_Cooking-003
  3. Break the egg in a bowl, add the spice paste followed by the curry powder and stir well.
  4. Add the fish fillet, coconut milk, kaffir lime leaf and the shredded kaduk leaf.
  5. Season the mixture with salt and sugar. Stir well.
  6. Place a kaduk leaf in the middle of a banana leaf square, then place a spoon of the marinated fish mixture on the kaduk leaf.
    • 2013_09_25-Malaysia_Cooking-004
  7. Wrap the banana leaf up and secure with a toothpick.
  8. Steam in wok or steamer for 10 minutes.


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