To commemorate National Day, I’ve created a recipe to reflect my mixed heritage!
Otak Otak is a regional dish widely known across South-East Asia and is usually time-consuming to make. In this soufflé version, I share my quick kitchen hacks and tips for ingredient substitutes to make it achievable in just under an hour!
Try it out and let me know what you think! It makes a great starter, or a light main course. Get creative and bake it in bowls or even mugs if you don’t have ramekins at home 😉
2 lemongrass (fleshy portion), sliced
7 shallots, peeled
3 garlic, peeled
3cm turmeric, peeled
½ red chilli padi (birds eye chilli), deseeded
1 ½ large red chillies, deseeded
2 kaffir lime leaves, finely sliced
Dash of black pepper
3 slices sardines, mashed
30g all-purpose flour
175ml / ¾ cup milk
6 egg whites
¼ tsp cream of tartar
Cooking oil (coconut, rapeseed, etc)
Salt and pepper
- Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
- Roughly chop the ingredients for the rempah, and blend in a food processor with a drizzle of oil.
- Fry it in a pan over low-medium heat until fragrant.
- Add in the mashed sardines and mix well. Turn off the heat.
- In a pot, melt the butter over medium heat.
- Add the flour and whisk together with the butter.
- Pour in half the milk and whisk vigorously until smooth.
- Stir in the remaining milk, and season with salt.
- Turn off the heat and stir in sardine-rempah mixture till well incorporated.
- Grease the ramekins with butter.
- In a clean bowl, whip egg whites with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Start at a low-medium speed until it gets frothy, add the cream of tartar, then increase the speed and whip until stiff peaks form. Do not overmix!
- Stir in a spoonful of the whipped egg whites into the base of soufflé to lighten the mixture.
- Then, pour the lightened mixture over the remaining egg whites and gently fold it in with a spatula until combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl and lift the whites from the bottom over the top of the base.
- Divide the mixture into the buttered ramekins, filling them ¾ full.
- Bake in the oven (bottom third) for about 15-18 minutes until the tops are beautifully golden brown.
- Before removing, make sure everyone is seated because a soufflé waits for no one!
- Adjust the amount of chillies you use depending on your preferred level of spice.
- For the lemongrass, use the softer, fleshier part of the stalk underneath the tougher outer leaves – the rest is too woody and fibrous, and you’re going to feel like you’re chewing a furball! Use remaining top portion for lemongrass infusions or throw into soups/curries for flavour.
- You may make soufflés ahead of time! You can make them hours ahead or even the day before. Cover the filled ramekins uncooked, leave them in the refrigerator, and take them to room temperature before baking them as per normal.