I’ve known Danny Boh, the contributor of this otak-otak recipe, for a long time.
Nearly 20 years in fact. We go way back to the days when I joined Dell Penang as a fresh graduate and Danny was a sales manager in another department.
Sure we said hello once in a while. But life in a multinational corporation is so intense and fast-paced, that you rarely have the time and opportunity to socialise properly with people in other departments. Unless you’re escalating an issue of course, haha! My Dell friends will know what I mean 🙂
It was only until MCO came along that I found out what a talented cook Danny was.
I watched, drooling like all his FB friends, as he posted mouthwatering picture after mouthwatering picture of otak-otak lah, yam cake lah, ayam rendang lah, sambal ikan masin lah, mango sticky rice lah … and even tiramisu?!!
This was no amateur playing with Youtube recipes to kill time during MCO. Danny Boh was a professional who knew exactly what he was doing in the kitchen.
Turns out, Danny has been cooking since he was a kid. Born and bred in Taiping, he was the only one among his 3 siblings who loved cooking, and he spent many hours in the kitchen observing his mother, an ace cook. “She could make very good duck cooked with young ginger and tauchu, sweet sour crab, just to name a few.”
Danny’s cooking skill came in handy later on as an adult. Deprived of Malaysian cuisine when he was working in Singapore, China and Hong Kong, he would simply head into the kitchen when he missed home-cooked food.
After getting married, he further expanded his culinary repertoire. “I started to explore Indian dishes like curry chicken, mutton and fish as my mother-in-law is Indian.”
These days, his wife cooks most of the time while he helps around. Or as he puts it, “I will start… and she will end the cooking, haha!”
Husband and wife have contrasting cooking styles. “My wife likes to agak-agak (eyeball it). Every time she cooks, she likes to improvise and the taste turns out different.”
Danny, on the other hand, is so precise that he uses the scales to measure. It is also a reflection of his working style. “I like to follow SOP,” he says.
Now that he is semi-retired, he’s spending more time experimenting in the kitchen. He makes and sells his own sambal and curry pastes. Danny insists on using only fresh ingredients and his products are preservatives-free, so at the moment, distribution is limited to around Taiping.
But he admits he is toying around with a few business ideas related to food. “All I want is to pass time and make people happy makan.”
All the best in achieving your dream Danny!
In the meantime, enjoy this otak-otak recipe that Danny has kindly shared with us. I’ve always thought that otak-otak must be very difficult and complex to make, but I was wrong. Danny has made the steps so simple even a beginner can follow and succeed on the first try!
To order Danny’s sambal and curry paste products
- steamer, blender
- 1 inch ginger
- 1 inch turmeric
- 1 inch galangal
- 2 stalks lemongrass, sliced
- 8 bulbs shallots
- 1 bulb onion
- 5 cloves garlic
- 1 tsp white pepper powder
- 5 pcs candlenuts (or 10 cashew nuts)
- 3 tbsp uncooked rice
- 200 g santan
- 1 inch toasted belacan
- 4 kaffir lime leaves, finely sliced
- 4 eggs
- 10 fresh red chillies, sliced (can halve if you prefer less spicy)
- Salt to taste
- seafood of choice, cut into small pieces
- Daun kaduk or banana leaves
- Prepare your ingredients ahead of time and cut them into chunks.
- Blitz everything except seafood and banana/betel leaves in a blender until mixture is creamy. If mixture is too watery, add rice flour.
- Line a steaming tray with a layer of daun kaduk/banana leaves. Place pieces of seafood on the leaves, then pour otak-otak mixture over. Top with another layer of daun kaduk. (See Recipe Notes 1)
- Steam at high heat for 10 minutes. Serve with rice or bread.
- Commercial otak-otak is typically served wrapped in banana leaves. The leaves serve as a vessel as well as add to the aroma of the otak-otak. However, working with banana leaves can be tricky as they can break and the paste will leak out. As an alternative, lining the steaming dish will give your otak-otak a nice aroma too.
- Although best eaten immediately, the raw otak-otak paste can be kept in the freezer for later use. Just defrost and steam before serving.
- Uncooked rice is used to thicken the paste. You can also use rice flour to do the job.