Vegan Otak-Otak / Otah from Okara or Tofu

Yields: 2 Servings Difficulty: Easy Prep Time: 20 Mins Cook Time: 10 Mins Total Time: 30 Mins

Vegan otak-otak or otah is the bomb! Otak-otak is traditionally made of fish and spice paste wrapped in banana leaf and grilled. Otak translates to “brains”, as the original Indonesian version was soft grey and squidgy. I know, it’s a gross mental image.

Anyway, the Singaporean / Malaysian version is reddish due to the use of chilli paste and turmeric, so we don’t have to think about brains so much. We also call it otah instead of otak-otak, because I guess we are lazy to pronounce things properly like that.

This completely vegan and gluten-free otah adds to the list of amazing things you can do with okara. I’ve made this with two different types of okara, so check out the gallery above to see the difference. The texture is pretty much spot on, and it takes only a short time to cook. In this vegan otah, we use okara and rice flour as the base, add tofu for texture, and seaweed for the fishy taste.


  • If you don’t have okara, you can substitute with mashed firm tofu instead.
  • The silkiness of the otah depends on how fine your okara is.
  • If you want your otah redder, use more chilli powder.
  • You need sambal for this recipe. If you can’t find any, check out A Basic Sambal For Everything.

This vegan otah is a perfect side for Vegan Nasi Lemak with the Works!

Share / Save:


0/14 Ingredients
Adjust Servings
  • Otah Base


0/7 Instructions
  • Mix all the ingredients for the otah base in a large mixing bowl until it is a uniformed colour and consistency.
  • Add the chopped tofu, seaweed, and kaffir lime leaf.
  • Cut the banana leaves into rectangles. Wash the banana leaves to get rid of bird poo and what not. It does not have to be completely dry before use as the moisture will keep it from burning too quickly.
  • Separate the mixture into four portions. Put a quarter of the mixture in the center of a banana leaf and shape it with your spoon or fork until it looks kind of otah-shaped. The thickness should be about 0.8cm.
  • Fold over the top and bottom of the leaf and secure on both sides with toothpicks.
  • If you have a grill, then grill your otah. If you do not, like me, this is how you cook it in a pan. Place the otah in an un-oiled non-stick pan over medium heat. Add 1/4 cup of water in the pan and put the lid on. You will hear the pan complaining as the water cooks out. When the pan finally stops making noise, remove the lid and flip the otah. Cook for another 2 minutes on this side until the banana leaf browns.
  • Serve your otah as a side with nasi lemak (coconut rice) or whatever you want.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *