Indonesian Fried Fishcake – Fried Otak-Otak

Otak Otak Goreng - Indonesian Fried Fishcake
Did you notice that I put the spoon on the left side? It was totally a wrong set. It was supposed to be on the right hand side.

Otak-otak is made from a mixed between fish, and spices. In Indonesia, there are two kinds of otak-otak. Otak-otak bakar or grilled or barbaqued otak-otak, in which the mixture is wrapped inside banana leaves and grill. Another type is otak-otak goreng or fried otak-otak. The fried one is not wrapped inside the leaves.

This dish is served as an appetizer or snack. There are three sauces that I know to eat otak-otak. While I was in South Sumatra, I ate grilled otak-otaks with cuko (Palembangese spicy tmarind sauce). In Jakarta, I ate them with spicy peanut sauce. Another sauce is an Indonesian bottled chili sauce.

Palembang of, Jakarta and Ujung Pandang (formely Makasar) of South Sulawesi are known for their otak-otaks.

Let me explain what otak in bahasa Indonesia and Malaysia is; it means brain, so otak-otak means brains. The name of the dish is derived from the idea that the dish some what resembles brains, being on the soft and squishy side.

In this recipe, I made the fried method one. The popular fish to be used is king mackerel (Indonesian: ikan tenggiri). As you may know, it is a bit pricey in Winnipeg, so I substituted for basa fish (Indonesian: ikan patin siam). Also, I don’t have the exact measurement for making cuko, since I was just mixing them together.

250 g boneless skinless white fish fillet (I used basa fish)
100 g tapioca starch
75 ml coconut cream
1 green onion, finely chopped

Spices to grind:
1/4 – 1/2 cup fried shallots
3 cloves garlic
ground white pepper


coconut sugar
garlic, grated
tamarind, soaked in warmed water
chilies, ground
sugar, just to taste
dried shrimp (ebi)

Fried Otak-Otak:
1. Process fish and ground spices in a food processor until fine.
2. Transfer into a big bowl, combine green onion.
3. Add tapioca starch and pour coconut cream little by litle in.
4. Shape the mixture into long oval and deep fry in hot oil until cooked and golden brown.

1. Soak coconut sugar into tamarind mixture. Bring to a boil.
2. Add sugar, salt, garlic, and chilies. Turn the heat to low. Let it simmer for 20 minutes
3. Taste it, add fresh squeezed lime.

Soak ebi in water. With a mortar and pestle, crush ebi until fine. Toast crushed ebi in a pan.

Serve otak-otak with toasted ground ebi and diced cucumber.

About the Author

An Indonesian-born who lived in Winnipeg, Canada for more than a decade prior to move to Edmonton in 2017. Indonesia Eats is a memoir of her homeland.