Category: Local specialty Product

Muar’s matchless ‘otak-otak’

CONSISTING of blended fish meat and spices wrapped in attap leaves, otak-otak is arguably as popular as satay.

But, while there is little agreement about the birthplace of satay, it is indisputable that otak-otak originated from Muar more than half a century ago.

The fish otak-otak costs 50 sen while the prawn variety costs 60 sen.

Even though the delicacy is now available in many parts of the country, they cannot match the otak-otak of Muar.

Some sellers outside Johor even go to the extent of promoting their otak-otak as Made-in-Muar products. But, connoisseurs can tell if it’s genuinely from Muar as soon as they take the first bite.

Otak-otak is usually eaten as an appetiser before the main meal or as a snack during afternoon tea.

Freshly-grilled otak-otak are readily available at restaurants, night markets and farmers’ markets.

Frozen chunks of otak-otak in plastic packaging is a favourite with tourists and students studying overseas.

Muar has more than 30 otak-otak makers and most of them operate from home.

Tan Boon Suck, 60, of Taman Utama Satu, said he experimented and fine tuned his otak-otak recipe for six months before he dared to sell his creations in 1986.

“I gave free samples to customers in a kopitiam and got their feedback. I kept changing my recipe until there were no more complaints from my white mice,” he joked.

Tan makes two types of otak-otak — fish and prawn. He said he only uses tenggiri because other fish varieties taste different.

The fish paste is blended with spices which include dried chilli, onions, garlic, lemon grass and curry powder. A small amount of the blended paste is placed on a piece of attap frond which is folded and wrapped with another piece of frond.

Both ends are stapled. During the grilling process, the attap wrapping imparts a mild fragrance which enhances the flavour of ‘otak-otak’.

Tan’s otak-otak are sold in Malacca, Kuala Lumpur, Johor Baru and Singapore. He is assisted by his wife Lim Hui Cheng, 56, and a worker.

“Muar people eat a lot of otak-otak. They eat it with noodles during breakfast, and as a snack during afternoon tea. It is often added to char koay teow.

“The demand for otak-otak peaks during Chinese New Year as it is served to guests in almost every households.”

~Courtesy of NST~

Category: Local specialty Product