At the beginning of the year, I was lucky enough to meet Masterchef winner, Ping Coombes. One of the dishes she cooked was called Otak-Otak, a Malaysian dish of fish and prawns steamed in an aromatic egg custard in banana leaves. There are other similar dishes around the world – Hor Mok in Thailand, and Amok in Cambodia, all of which use different herbs, spices, and types of shellfish.
For a traditional dish like this, you’d need a whole lot of fresh spices and herbs to make an aromatic paste, along with banana leaves, things that aren’t always available in a weekly shop. It’s also far more time-consuming. I have, therefore, done a simple version of this dish, using pre-made thai paste, and baking paper for the fish parcels. Obviously it’s by no means authentic, but it’s super easy to make and still packs plenty of flavour for a quick and easy dinner.
A quick note on cooking your fish: I have based this recipe on two standard fillets of salmon from Sainsbury’s (a 240g pack). The packet will tell you to cook this for around 20 minutes, which is far too long and will make your fish dry, chewy, and unpleasant. When cooking a standard-sized fish fillet in the oven, I cook it for about 10 minutes. It’s always better to undercook it slightly, as you can always put it back in. It’s also important to remember that there will be carryover cooking time, so even as you take it out of the oven, it will continue to cook slightly due to the heat it retains.
How to know when fish is cooked: take your fish from the oven and gently put your knife into the middle of the fillet. It should have just about lost the translucent look of raw fish, and should be easy to flake apart into large chunks, as well as looking nice and moist.
Egg-Baked Fish with Miso Ginger Cabbage
This recipe takes around 30 minutes to prepare and cook, and serves two.
You will need:
- Two salmon fillets
- Two eggs
- 50ml coconut milk
- Two teaspoons red thai curry paste
- Two tablespoons fresh ginger (peeled and grated/chopped)
- Two garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
- One tsp of salt
- One tablespoon vegetable oil
- Half a white cabbage (about 500g)
- Two teaspoons of white miso paste (as an alternative, try two tsp of soy sauce or fish sauce for a similar umami taste)
- One spring onion
- One red chilli
- A few sprigs of coriander
You will also need two pieces of baking paper.
Preheat your oven to 200°C (or 180°C Fan/Gas Mark 6/400°F).
In a mixing bowl, whisk the two eggs together with the red thai paste until well-combined. Whisk in the coconut milk, one tablespoon of ginger, garlic, and salt – this will be your egg ‘custard’ that you bake the fish in. Place the fillets of salmon in the mixture and set to one side for 5-10 minutes for a quick marinade.
Meanwhile, prepare your cabbage by slicing it thinly. You can also use this time to slice the spring onion, chilli, and coriander which will be used to garnish the fish at the end.
Now you need to prepare your fish parcels. I tend to do one per piece of fish, but if they are small pieces you can parcel them up together. Lay out one of the pieces of baking paper and place your piece of fish in the middle along with some of the egg custard.
Fold the paper in half over the fish, and starting at the side closest to you, begin making small diagonal folds. Continue this along the edge until you have a little sealed parcel – it will look a bit like a cornish pasty!
When your fish parcels are ready, place in the oven to cook for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large frying pan heat one tablespoon of vegetable oil. Once hot, add the cabbage, one tablespoon of ginger, and miso, and fry quickly for 10 minutes until just softened (you want it to have a little crunch still).
By this time, your fish should be ready. Serve the cabbage and fish with a sprinkle of the spring onion, chilli, and coriander. This dish is also perfect with a little sriracha sauce if you have any.
No-Waste Tip: If you end up with lots of egg custard leftover, don’t waste it! You can fry this up in a small frying pan like an omelette, then cut into strips and serve with the fish. Alternatively, save it for later and use in an omelette. Just be careful not to keep it longer than a day in the fridge uncooked, as you have used it to marinade raw fish.