Otak-otak is a Malaysian snack that ranks high on my “Favourite foods of Malaysia” list. It is essentially a blended paste of fish and/or prawns mixed with coconut milk, spices and chilli, wrapped up in a banana leaf and then steamed or grilled to cook it and bring out its glorious flavour.
I love mine grilled. You don’t see this everywhere. In most places they are steamed to cook. I believe that in Penang, they are wrapped up in banana leaf like a pyramid and then steamed. You can find a similar style in Thailand too. I’m not a fan of those or of those that have too much coconut milk. The ones I go for are slivers of delightful morsels, folded in coconut leaves, then grilled over an open fire to perfection.
What you get from a grilled stick of otak-otak, is a strip of delicious springy, smokey snack you can pop into your mouth once cooked. I can eat up to 20 or more sticks of these at one go all by myself. Yes siree! Gluttony is my middle name
It is also absolutely delicious paired with some plain noodles, or even with some piping hot steamed rice. For a blend of east and west, I sometimes eat mine inside a crusty bun as a sandwich and its the best sandwich I can ever have! The best ones are spicy but flavoursome, have chunks of firm fish meat in them, are springy with good bite, not bright red (!!) and importantly, come in a slightly charred coconut leaf, held together now with staples, but previously, with 2 short sticks at both ends. The coconut leaf adds a smokey flavour that cannot be replicated by any other method of cooking.
The best grilled otak-otak sticks everyone will agree, come from the small sleepy town of Muar, in the southern part of the country. Lots of wannabes abound here in the big city but nothing comes close to the original. I’m extremely picky
Most Malaysians will be familiar with this – do you enjoy snacking on otak-otak too? I’m still looking for a good authentic grilled otak-otak snack here in KL so if anyone knows of any, please feel free to share. Or even if you do know of anywhere good to have otak-otak, do share too!
Scrumptious Saturday : One day in a week where I dish out random scrumptiousness from my other love – food! Where possible I will link to the full reviews of the eating places featured on my food blog – HaveYouEaten.net