Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Thai-Style Steamed Fish Mousse

I made this dreamboat of a Fish Mousse today, thanks to the abundance of Red Snapper fillets my Granny gave me. Fish Mousse, or Otah, as it is more popularly known locally, is one of my all-time favourite food. I could live on it and bread alone! Yum yum!

Well, today, I chose to steam it the Thai way (instead of grilling the Malay/Indonesian way) because I was so busy rushing out some work. Steaming was the fuss-free and safer option (read: no chance of burning).

I cut the Red Snapper fillet into chunks and mixed them in with some fish paste I bought from the market. The result was a fragrant, spicy Fish Mousse which was oh-so-perfect with the crusty French loaf I bought this morning. I am salivating just thinking about it! 

The texture was quite different from the Otah commonly sold in shops - firmer, and with lots of bite ... the fish chunks were beautifully tender and flavourful. I can't believe I am already thinking of Round 2 - the grilled version! 

- 1/2 cup thick coconut milk (the thick cream you get from the first press)
- 200g fish paste
- 200g firm, white fish fillet (cut into chunks)
- 2 tbsp chilli paste* 
- 2 tbsp fish sauce (if your fish paste is already salted, you may reduce this to 1 tbsp)
- 2 tbsps corn flour
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 4 kaffir lime leaves (shredded very thinly)
- dash of pepper
*I make my own using lemongrass, garlic, candlenuts, shallots, fresh chilli, oil and salt.

You also need
- banana leaves to hold the fish mousse (use 2 sheets per cup/boat, one leaf on top of the other, grains running in opposite directions to make them stronger, and fasten with toothpicks or staples)
- shredded chinese cabbage
- red chilli for garnishing 

1. Blanch the banana leaves to soften them. Once they are pliable, fold them into cups or boats (like I did). I really feel that banana leaves are indispensable if you want to achieve an authentic taste.

2. Mix all the ingredients well.

3. Place shredded cabbage at the bottom of the banana cups/boats.

4. Pour fish mousse into banana cups/boats.

5. Steam on high for 15-20mins or until skewer comes out clean.

6. Garnish with shredded red chilli.


  1. That's a wonderful shot! Love the colours! This is one of my favourites, thanks for the recipe!

  2. That looks good! I never knew you could actually steam it instead of grilling :P Now I've got a craving!

  3. Hi hi, ovenhaven! Yup, the Thais do it this way :) And would you believe it, I am baking your huggable Cinnamon Rolls as I write!!! What are the odds?! The smell is amazing ...

  4. Wow!! It looks beautiful, and delicious! (Love fish and spicy-ness).

    To be honest I can't recall ever seeing this before. And I never knew otah could be called fish mousse!

  5. I have never had a fish mousse but it looks so good! Would you be able to replace the fish paste with some food processed white fish?

  6. Leon: It's quite common in Thai restaurants, actually. We're lucky - otah is easily available in Singapore. I would go insane if I had to go w/o my regular otah fix.

    Kevin: What a wonderful surprise to have you drop by. I am a "closet reader" of your blog and I love your work! To answer your question, yes, you can use any type of firm, white fish meat and put it into a food processor. You probably need to add a little cornstarch, egg white and seasoning like salt/sugar/pepper to bind the paste. If you do try this dish out, please let me know how it turns out! Cheers!

  7. When you're going about Round 2, pleaase remember to invite me. Great pic.

  8. Hi! Is there no egg in this recipe or have you missed it out?

  9. Hi Anon, I didn't use egg in this. But that doesn't stop you from adding it if you prefer :) Some recipes do include egg.