The smoky, heavily-spiced scent is popular at the ramps leading to Transjakarta bus stations in the Indonesian capital, and with good reason; the alternative odor is exhaust from the rest of the traffic. However, there are many reasons not to eat otak-otak, and I do my best to ignore them. For your sake though, I’ll list a few that popped into my head:
- Otak in Indonesian means brain
- But a pair of otak doesn’t mean there are double the brains
- So then, what’s the worry, right? Ah
- It’s usually a street food. In Indonesia. The country that introduced us to a whole new dimension on the food chain
- Which also happens to be the country that brought us otak-otak
What’s all the fuss about? I haven’t even explained anything yet. Don’t fret, for the main ingredient of this smashed snack is fish, be it mackerel or featherback. Also necessary are tapioca flour, coconut milk, shallots, turmeric, and a mix of spices, and depending on which part of Indonesia you’re in, cuko (choo-ko; a tamarind + vinegar mixture) or peanut sauce in which to dip the otak-otak.
So where does brain fit in then? The texture. Here’s a possibly valid question though- which are you more likely to have touched, minced fish or a brain? Back to that juicy noun called imagination.
In the mood for mush?