Quick and easy Otak otak

Otak otak is a spicy steamed fish parcel, wrapped in banana leaves. Or I called it fish custard when I explained to my children, which was not a good introduction to this amazing dish. So now I have to double my effort to convince them to try this amazing nonya dish.

What’s in this parcel?

The version I am going to introduce is the Penang style otak otak. It is primarily made up of fish, coconut milk and a whole lot of spices mixed together and steamed.

The flavour of this dish will come from the coconut milk and spices, and, the aroma will come from kaffir lime and beatle nut leaves. The savoury flavour will come from the fish.

I have known people add prawns to this dish; however, from my experience, otak otak is primarily a fish parcel, thus I will not be experimenting with prawns for this recipe.

For the spices, you will need, galangal, turmeric, chillies, lemongrass etc.; blend them together with rice flour, candlenut, eggs, coconut milk.

However, my mission is to simplify nonya dishes preparation so that everyone will be able to enjoy this amazing cuisine.

Therefore I don’t expect you to chop/skin/blend the spices and “tumis” (cook in oil) ; I want you to be able to whip up this amazing dish as fast as possible and still be able to enjoy the sophisticated and authentic taste of the otak otak.

So I am going to use readymade Curry Kapitan paste to substitute the spices.

Yes, you heard it right, curry Kapitan paste! And instead of banana leaves, let’s just put them in a heat proof bowl and just steam them. The flavour will still be aromatic, balanced and authentic to the Penang otak otak.

Traditionally we use banana leaves to wrap otak otak. However for this recipe, we are going to skip the wrapping, but using a heatproof dish instead. This is a quick and easy recipe to make and the taste is still fairly authentic.

Here goes…

Ingredients for otak otak


  • 1 Packet of Little Nonya Kapitan Paste
  • 1/2 kilo white fish
  • 6 Candle nuts – pound / blend until fine
  • 1 Banana leave – center vein removed
  • 2 Tbsp rice flour
  • 4 Eggs – lightly beaten
  • 10 Kaffir lime leaves – discard center vein – julienned very finely
  • 6 Wild betel leaves (daun kaduk) – You can get this from wet market or ‘sos’ your friends
  • 200ml coconut milk – I prefer the Ayam brand
  • Pinch of salt / sugar to taste

Another recipe you can try – instead of using 4eggs, you can try using 6 eggs, but need to adjust the quantity of rice flour and coconut milk.

  • 1 Packet ofLittle Nonya Kapitan Paste
  • 300g kilo white fish (up to 500g)
  • 6 Candle nuts – pound / blend until fine
  • 1 Banana leave – center vein removed
  • 1 Tbsp rice flour
  • 6 Eggs – lightly beaten
  • 10 Kaffir lime leaves – discard center vein – julienned very finely
  • 6 Betel leaves (daun kaduk) –You can get this from wet market or ‘sos’ your friends
  • 400ml coconut milk – I prefer the Ayam brand/ however using the local brand
  • Pinch of salt / sugar to taste


From left – banana leaf, beatle nut leaves, kaffir lime leaves

  • Mix Kapitan paste, fish, kaffir lime leaves, salt together. Allow fish to marinate for about 30 minutes in the fridge.
  • In the meantime, discard center vein from banana leaves.
  • Wash banana and betel leaves thoroughly and dry them with cloth or kitchen towel. Set aside.
  • Cut banana leaf to fit the cookware/heat proof plate
  • Layer the heatproof plate with banana leaf and betel leaves on top of the banana leaf.


  • Beat eggs gently
  • Mix coconut milk, beaten eggs and Kapitan paste mixture together – stir gently until well blended
  • Pour the paste mixture into the prepared dish
  • Steam for 20-30 minutes on high heat or until pudding mix is cooked. *Do check to make sure all raw ingredients are cooked thoroughly before consuming.

Cooking Time:

Cooking time: 30 minutes (steaming)
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Number of people: 4 – 8

Cook’s note:

If you use a smaller container, reduce the steaming duration.

Enjoy this amazing dish!

Get your fresh ingredients:

Little Nonya Curry Curry Kapitan

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