It is then wrapped in a banana leaf that has been softened by steaming, before being grilled lightly over a burning charcoal fire. The recipe is known in several Asian regions, and although otak otak means “brains” in Malay, it’s a name derived from its soft, mushy texture. While fish otak otak is the most common, you’ll also be able to find other variations made with prawns, cuttlefish, crab and fish head.
Otak otak is best eaten on its own as a snack, and is a great complementary dish to other local favourites like laksa and nasi lemak. Those who have never tried it might find this an acquired taste, but otak otak is so commonly sought-after in Singapore that every food centre has one or two stalls that often also sell them in bulk for occasions such as private parties and office lunches.