Monday, November 23, 2009
Making this dish is not a problem, the biggest problem is getting the leaves - duan kaduk. Daun kaduk, or wild pepper (Piper sarmentosum), is the glossy heart-shaped leaf of a creeper that is often featured in Nyonya cooking. In Hokkien, the name is pronounced as lun kaduk, these leaves provide the texture and aroma that is so essential to this dish, without it the taste will be vastly different. I have wanted to make otak otak but if daun kaduk is not available, i will not waste my time to adulterate. My chance at last arrived when my dear friend, Peng, who is in Colorado Springs, found the leaves in her asian store. With all the ingredients complete, graciously contributed by Catherine, another dear friend who also share the same passion in cooking as Peng does.. we made some in Peng's house. Thank you Catherine and Peng. I can't remember when was the last time i had otak otak and when i opened up a freshly steamed parcel, the aroma jolted my "otak"(in Malay is brain) into rememberance of a good thing.
There are different forms of otak-otak originating from different regions. Nyonya otak-otak is of Peranakan origins from Penang, it is wrapped in banana leaves in a parcel and steamed. However, otak-otak from the south of Malaysia and from Singapore is wrapped up as a thin slice using banana or coconut leaf and grilled over a charcoal fire.
1 lb fish fillet preferably white fish - slice into thin slices
5 kaffir lime leaves - spines removed and finely shredded
1 large tumeric leaves - spines removed and finely shredded
30 leaves - daun kaduk(the more leaves the better) - spines removed
1/2 cup thick coconut cream
3 large eggs
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp cornflour
1 tbsp rice flour
1 tbsp fish sauce
Salt, sugar and pepper to taste
Banana leaves - cleaned, cut into 8" x 8" squares and boiled, wipe dry.
1 x 1/2 inch galangal
2 stalks lemon grass - white part only
5 pieces candlenut/buah keras
1 tbsp shrimp paste/belacan granules
5 pieces fresh red chillies - cut into small pieces
5 pieces/3 ozs shallots - washed and peeled
5 cloves garlic - peeled
1/4 - 1/2 oz tumeric powder or 1 x 2 inch fresh tumeric
10 pieces dried chillies, cut into small pieces, soaked in hot water until soft, drained
3 fl ozs cooking oil for frying
Prepare the Rempah.
Grate galangal and lemon grass with a microplane zester.
In the food processor, grind the rest of the ingredients except the cooking oil, into a fine paste.(If using the blender, put all the ingredients in including the oil and blend to very fine.)
Pour blended ingredients into a microwable bowl and microwave on high for 5 minutes, stir and continue to cook on high 2 minutes at a time, until oil surfaces and paste is fragrant and almost dry.
Prepare the mousse:
Pat the fish dry and cut it into 2-inch slices.
Beat slightly eggs and egg yolk with fish sauce, salt, sugar, white pepper.
Mix cornflour and rice with the coconut milk.
In a large bowl, put in the sliced fish, eggs, coconut mixture.and cooled rempah. Mix well to combine.
Lastly add in the shredded kaffir lime and tumeric leaves.
.To make otak otak parcels:
For each parcel, , use a square of banana leaf and lay 3 - 4 leaves daun kaduk in the center. Spread 2 to 3 tablespoons of the fish mixture on top of daun kaduk.
Fold the banana leaf into half and hold on to the center. Fold up the right side to the center and open up the leaf to form the parcel edge. Repeat with the left side and using a staple or toothpick, secure the parcel.
Repeat making the parcels until all the fish mousse is done.
Put the parcel to steam for about 10 minutes.
Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.