This aromatic treat is a favorite in Southeast Asian (Peranakan) restaurants and hawker stalls, where it's called otak-otak. You can grill this tangy appetizer the traditional way—wrapped in banana leaves—or simply bake it in the oven. Otak-otak can be served hot or cold as a snack. Follow the additional instructions for a creamy tofu version of this recipe.
Spicy Coconut Fish Cakes
- 2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and sliced
- 2-inch piece of turmeric root, peeled and sliced
- 6 Thai (bird) chiles, or small jalapeños remove seeds for less heat
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 10 shallots or 2 onions, peeled and sliced
- 1 tablespoon ground coriander
- 1 (14-ounce) can light coconut milk
- 1 tablespoon natural cane sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 egg, beaten
- 10 kaffir lime leaves or zest of 1 lime
- 1 1/3 pounds deboned haddock, cod, mackerel or any other white, flaky fish*
- Banana leaves, for wrapping optional
- Place ginger, turmeric, chiles, lemon, onions and coriander in a blender or food processor and purée. Add a little water if needed.
- Place ground spices in a skillet or wok and cook 2 minutes, just enough to release spicy flavor. Turn off heat and allow mixture to cool. Stir in coconut milk.
- Add sugar and salt to mixture, and stir.
- Add flour and beaten egg. Stir thoroughly.
- Preheat oven to 350°. Remove center vein of kaffir lime leaves and mince finely, or substitute lime zest. Add to spicy coconut mixture.
- Chop raw, deboned fish into small chunks. Stir into spicy coconut mixture.
- Pour fish mixture into an 8-inch cake pan. Bake in 350° oven for 25-30 minutes until edges are golden brown and mixture has set. Cool slightly and cut into squares and serve. To make small, round fish cakes, pour mix about 1-1/2-inches deep into muffin tins and bake for 15-20 minutes. Or, spoon about 5 tablespoons of the mixture into 6-inch x 12-inch banana leaves, wrap like a tamale, and secure ends with toothpicks or skewers. Grill over hot coals for 10-15 minutes, or until mixture has set.
Spicy Coconut Fish Cakes
Amount Per Serving
Calories 168 Calories from Fat 54
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 6g 9%
Cholesterol 70mg 23%
Total Carbohydrates 13g 4%
Protein 17g 34%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
*To substitute tofu for fish: Use 18 ounces of firm tofu. Chop into cubes and prepare recipe as indicated, but instead of using fish, place tofu and vegetable egg mixture into blender or food processor and purée until smooth. Bake or grill as indicated.
PER SERVING: 168 cal, 6g fat, 70mg chol, 13g carb, 17g protein