Otak Otak, fish in banana leaf
Trident 125 ml (1/2 cup) coconut cream
4 kaffir lime leaves, very thinly sliced*
1 Tbs sugar
1 tsp salt
2 large banana leaves, cut into 20 cm (8 inch) squares, cleaned (you’ll need 12–15 squares)
handful of toothpicks
500 g snapper fillets**
1 Tbs cornflour (cornstarch)
1/2 tsp ground white pepper
125 ml (1/2 cup) iced water
pinch of salt
Rempah (spice paste)
20 g belacan (dried shrimp paste)
10 g dried red chillies (use less or seeded chillies if you don’t like it too hot), soaked in hot water for 30 minutes, then drained
5 large fresh red chillies, seeded
10 g candlenuts
5 garlic cloves, peeled
100 g French shallots (about 10–12), peeled
15 g fresh turmeric, peeled (or 1 tablespoon ground turmeric)
5 g galangal, peeled
2 lemongrass stalks, white part only
To make the rempah, blend the rempah ingredients until you achieve a fine paste.
To make the fish paste, blend 300g of fish fillet, cornflour, salt and white pepper in a food processor into a paste. With the processor still running, pour iced water into the mixture in a steady stream and blend until it forms a sticky paste. With clean hands, collect the fish paste in one hand and throw it against the side of a mixing bowl, doing this 8 to 10 times until the fish paste becomes sticky and elastic. This technique gives the paste a nice springy texture when cooked. Chop up the remaining 200g fish fillets into small cubes and mix into the fish paste.
Mix 30g of the fish paste with the rempah, coconut cream and kaffir lime leaves, then season with the sugar and salt. Stir well and set aside.
Scald the banana leaves with hot water to soften them, then pat dry. Alternatively, place the leaves in a microwave for 30 seconds or fan the leaves over a naked flame on a gas stove.
Spread a teaspoon of the spice paste in the middle of the banana leaf, then a tablespoon of fish paste on top, then cover with another teaspoon of spice paste over the top. Fold the leaf over the fish mixture, tuck both ends underneath the parcel and secure with toothpicks. Repeat until all fish paste is used.
Heat up a barbecue and grill the fish parcels for 5 minutes on each side. Serve immediately while still hot.
*To cut kaffir lime leaves into long thin strips, stack the leaves together, roll them tightly then slice very finely. This technique is called chiffonade.
** You can substitute snapper with any firm white fish, such as barramundi, cod or ling fish.