Penang Travel Tips

Penang Otak-Otak 鲤鱼包

Otak OtakOtak Otak (25 March, 2018)

Otak-Otak 鲤鱼包 is a fish cake dish is common in Malaysia as well as Singapore and Indonesia. As with many local dishes, there are regional variations to the otak-otak. The Penang Otak-Otak, which has local influence, is a steamed fish cake made from a mixture of eggs, fish fillet and a whole lot of herbs including serai (lemon grass), lengkuas (galangal), ginger, kunyit hidup (fresh tumeric), dried chillies, daun mengkudu (morinda), daun limau purut (kaffir lime leaf), on a bed of daun kaduk (Piper sarmentosum, pointed pepper), and the whole thing wrapped with banana leaf. The style of wrapping otak-otak is unique and immediately recognizable - it is such that the egg and fish mix do not run out.

Penang Otak-Otak (9 August, 2008)

Penang Otak-Otak (9 August, 2008)

The wrap is held together by a lidi (coconut leaf rib) though nowadays it is simply stapled. It is commonly sold at economy rice stalls, in which case it is often simply prepared on trays - otak-otak lovers prefer those wrapped in banana leaf; there is nothing like the aroma of freshly steamed fish when the otak-otak is unwrapped.

The Otak-Otak that my wife made (28 March, 2018)

Otak-Otak Recipe

  1. Fish fillet - cut into slices
  2. Kaduk leaves
  3. Banana leaves
Ingredients for spice paste (grounded up)
  1. Dried chili - cut into smaller pieces and soaked
  2. Shallot
  3. Garlic
  4. Lemongrass
  5. Galangal
  6. Turmeric
  7. Belacan
Ingredient for the custard
  1. Thick coconut milk
  2. Egg
  3. Rice flour/ Glutinous rice flour
  4. Kaffir lime leaves - sliced finely
  5. Pepper
  6. Salt
  7. Sugar
  1. Scald the banana leaves with hot water or soften it over a medium flame. Clean and cut the banana leaves into 18x20 cm rectangles. If you plan to steam the otak-otak using a casserole dish or a bowl, just trim the leaves into desired size and line the bowl. Put aside.
  2. In a mixing bowl, crack an egg and mix it with coconut milk. Whisk for one minute.
  3. Add in the spice paste and mix well.
  4. Add in sliced kaffir lime leaves, rice flour, salt, sugar and pepper.
  5. You can also roughly sliced the kaduk leaves, about 3 mm thick, and add into the mixture.
  6. Lastly, add in the fish fillet.
  7. Take one piece of banana leaf with the non-shining side facing up. Place a few pieces of kaduk leaves, and top with a ladle of otak-otak mixture.
  8. Fold the sides up to meet in the center. Slowly fold both ends and meet in the center.
  9. Secure with staples or bamboo toothpick.
  10. Steam for 20 minutes or until the otak-otak is fully cooked.
  11. If steam using the casserole dish, just line the bottom with a few pieces of kaduk leaves and pour in the mixture.
  12. Steam for 20-30 minutes or until fully cooked.
  13. Serve with rice or bread.
  1. 鱼肉- 切成条状
  2. 山捞叶- 去梗,清洗干净,备用
  3. 香蕉叶
香料 (捣碎):
  1. 辣椒干- 切成小截,浸至软
  2. 葱头
  3. 蒜头
  4. 香茅
  5. 南姜
  6. 黄姜
  7. 峇拉煎
  8. 椰浆
  9. 糯米粉/粘米粉
  10. 疯柑叶- 切成细条
  11. 胡椒粉
  1. 把香蕉叶用热水烫软或把叶子过中火,洗净,弄成18x20厘米宽。如果要用蒸盘,香蕉叶就剪成比蒸盘大一点, 铺在盘底。 备用。
  2. 拿一大碗,将蛋和椰浆完全混合,加入香料拌至均匀。
  3. 拌入疯柑叶,糯米粉,胡椒粉, 盐和糖。 你也可以将山捞叶切成粗条状,加入香料糊中。最后拌入鱼片。
  4. 拿一片香蕉叶,滑面在底。铺几片山捞叶,舀2-3大汤匙香料糊在上,再铺几片山捞叶在上面。
  5. 将叶子的两端相对,另两端小心摺到中间,再用钉子或竹签钉牢,蒸至熟。
  6. 如果要用蒸盘,就铺几片山捞叶在盘底,然后将全部材料倒入,再铺几片山捞叶在上面, 蒸至熟。
  7. 配白饭或面包。

Our homemade otak-otakOur homemade otak-otak (2 June, 2013)

There are a number of places on Penang Island where you can buy Otak Otak. The ones I have come across (and can recall), I list out on the food map below. The pins are numbered to correspond to the list below the map. I'll add some more as I continue to look for them.

View Otak Otak Stalls in Penang in a larger map

Where to find Otak-Otak

Otak-Otak is available at the following locations in Penang:
  1. Cecil Street Market Hawker Centre
  2. Restoran Hot Bowl Nyonya Delights, Aboo Sittee Lane (breakfast, lunch)
  3. Midtown Cafe, Lorong Selamat (lunch)
  4. Restoran Hai Onn, Burmah Road, facing Transfer Road
  5. Kedai Makanan Kim Lee, Macalister Lane
  6. Padang Brown Hawker Centre
  7. Hou Mei Yuen Cafe in Bukit Jambul (lunch), every Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays
  8. Super Tanker Food Court, Lip Sin Garden

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