The spicy custard is key in making this delicious and also a certain kind of leafy herb called Daun Kadok or Piper sarmentosum. The locals in Malaysia sometimes substitute this herb for mint leaves because Daun Kadok has a rather minty profile but by substituting it with mint leaves, the minty profile is pretty much all you get because Daun Kadok also has a lemongrass and a green herbaceous profile that cannot be replicated. But in the event that you could not find this herb, go ahead and use mint. It would still be pretty good.
So, the French have their pates and terrines, the Malaysian have their Otak-otak and it is absolutely delicious to eat when spread on toasts, crackers and even with a steamy hot bowl of rice. To make otak-otak, there are basically three steps 1) POUND 2) ASSEMBLE 3) STEAM – and on we go.
Malaysian Steamed Fish Custard (Otak-otak)
makes 8 pouches
To be pounded:
10 shallots3 slices of galangal root
2 inches of turmeric root
5 dried red chilies, de-seeded
5 fresh red chillies, de-seeded
2 cloves of garlic
2 stalks of lemongrass, cut into small manageable pieces
1 tablespoon of fish paste, also known as belachan
1 cup of coconut milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoon of rice flour, can be substituted with cornstarch or regular all-purpose flour
4 kaffir lime leaves, finely sliced
1 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt to taste
The filling of the custard:
150grams of shrimp, chopped into small chunks
Other options: Any firm fleshed white fish, shredded chicken breast, shredded beef and scallops
16 Daun Kadok or Piper sarmentosum
It’s ready to eat with some rice or with a slice of toasted baguette. Mmmm….
I made otak-otak before 3 years ago but this is definitely the better version. I gather it’s because I put a lot of love into it. 🙂
Vegetarians – you can omit the fish paste in the custard and also substitute shrimp with medium soft tofu. It is equally delicious.