Stuffed Milkfish
(Otak-Otak Bandeng)

  • 1 whole bandeng (milkfish) or substitute sea bass or mackerel (about 700 g)
  • 6 tbs. grated coconut, fried in a dry pan until golden brown and pounded till fine
  • 100 ml thick coconut milk from coconut
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • banana leaves, or substitute foil


  • 2 tsp. coriander seeds
  • 6 shallots
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 4 candlenuts
  • 1 cm fresh gangale (lengkuas)
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • salt to taste
  • Scale and gut the fish through the gills.  Wash the fish inside and out and dry thoroughly with kitchen towel paper.
  • Carefully pound the fish with the flat of a large knife.  Massage it hard all over in order to release the meat from the skin.
  • Remove the backbone of the fish but leave tail and head in place: bend the tail towards the head until you feel the bone snap.  Carefully pull out the bone through the gill-opening.  Take care not to break the skin anywhere.
  • Press out all the meat through the gill-opening by pressing the fish with a spoon from the tail-end towards the head.
  • Turn over the skin by pushing the tail towards the head.  Remove the bones then push the tail back through the head opening.  Flake the meat and fry in a dry pan for a few minutes, then remove all the tiny bones from the meat.  Mix the meat with the grated coconut, coconut milk, beaten eggs and the pounded Spice-paste.  Blend till smooth.  The consistency should be like soft butter.
  • Put the stuffing back inside the fish through the gill-opening.  Sew up the opening after stuffing the fish.   Wrap in a banana leaf and secure the ends.  Steam until done, approximately 15-20 minutes.  Unwrap and grill over a barbecue or in the oven until brown before serving.

Note:  Choose a freshly caught milkfish, because the skin would tear easily in a fish that has been lying around for a while.

Make 3-4 servings.

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