This is a spin on otak-otak, a classic Malaysian dish where seasoned fish paste is grilled wrapped in a banana leaf packet. This version folds big chunks of Western rock lobster through the fish paste and grills it in the lobster shell. 






Skill level

Average: 5 (1 vote)


  • 1 large raw Western rock lobster 
  • 60 ml (¼ cup) vegetable oil, plus extra for brushing
  • 450 g white fish fillets (barramundi, mackerel or snapper) 
  • 3 tsp potato starch
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1½ tsp caster sugar
  • 100 ml coconut milk
  • 3 makrut lime leaves, very finely sliced
  • 1 fresh or frozen banana leaf, cut into 2 pieces
  • 1 bunch betel leaves, to serve
  • lime wedges, to serve


  • 5 dried red chillies
  • 2 long red chillies, seeded 
  • 5 red Asian shallots, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 3 cm piece peeled galangal 
  • 2 cm piece peeled ginger 
  • 2 cm piece peeled turmeric
  • 2 lemongrass stalks, white part only, chopped

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Chilling/freezing time: 1 hour

  1. To dispatch the lobster humanely, place in the freezer for about 1 hour to put it to sleep.
  2. Meanwhile, for the rempah, soak the dried red chillies in hot water for at least 15 minutes. Remove the stalks and seeds and place in a blender with all the remaining ingredients. Blend to a paste, using a little water to help the mixture catch the blades if necessary. 
  3. Heat a small saucepan over medium heat and add the oil. Fry the rempah, stirring regularly for about 10 minutes or until fragrant and the oil separates from the mixture.  Remove the mixture from the oil and set aside to cool. 
  4. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Add the lobster and cook for about 30 seconds, then drain. When cool enough to handle, use a large cleaver or knife to split the lobster down the centre, keeping the shell intact.  Remove the intestines, then the lobster meat and the tomalley. Chop the meat into large chunks, clean the shells and set aside. 
  5. Preheat a barbecue or grill pan over high heat. Place the cooled rempah in a food processor with the fish, lobster tomalley, potato starch, salt and sugar and blend to a paste. Gradually add the coconut milk and process until well combined.  
  6. Transfer to a bowl and stir through the lobster chunks and lime leaf. Stuff the mixture back into the lobster shell, pressing firmly. Grill the banana leaf very quickly to make it pliable, then brush with oil and place on the open side of the lobster. Tie with string to secure it to the lobster. 
  7. Barbecue the lobster, shell side first for about 10 minutes, then flip onto the banana leaf side and grill for a further 5 minutes. Remove the lobster to a serving plate and serve with the betel leaves and lime wedges. 


Join Adam & Poh on a Malaysian-Australian eating adventure in Adam & Poh's Malaysia in Australia