Muar Otah Vadai
When we first decided to make Vadai, we thought of all kinds of possible “toppings” to give it a somewhat non-traditional twist. Tuna, sardines, sambal, egg & mayonnaise, you name it. In the end, we chose to keep things simple.
We decided to make two flavours that are profoundly close to our Southeast Asian hearts: The Imperial Vadai – made of ground ikan bilis and curry leaves, and the Muar Otah Vadai which name is self-explanatory.
The otah is embedded during the frying process, and if you can imagine the swirl of flavours from sweet mackerel, tumeric, chillies, garlic, shallots, lemongrass, and coconut milk atop a fluffy, light-tasting Vadai. Our Vadai stays crispy for up to two hours in ambient temperature and can be kept refrigerated for about two days if you’re not planning to eat them immediately. Most importantly, Vadai must not be too oily.
Why Muar Otah and not any other otah? Because if Muar is listed in the Wikipedia entry for otah, then, wah piang the otah jolly well has to come from Muar lor – there can be no other way!
As luck would have it, we found a nice lady in the heart of Muar who makes otah by hand and packs them in convenient little blocks that are then frozen, wrapped (in newspapers – oldest and best form of insulation as we’ve discovered) and shipped over every other day. We’ve tasted a lot of different otah, and we have to say (not boastin’, just sayin’) this has to got to be the most authentic Muar Otah this side of the planet.
Back in Siglap, the kindly Uncle Lim (a.k.a. The Imperial Vadai-Maker) makes about 50 Muar Otah Vadai every hour or so. It’s hard work standing in front of a large vat of hot oil all day, but we hear it does wonders for his skin.
In between Vadai-frying intervals, he ponders the meaning of life and how much beer he might drink this evening before the wife gets on his case.
Recently, we got the attention of the lovely folks from iTV who interviewed Joe (a.k.a. The Imperial Baker) about the Muar Otah Vadai. iTV is one of the pioneers in Singapore for, hmm, whatchamacallit – “internet television”. It’s like watching TV, but on the internet? Livestreaming talkshows and the like? Not exactly stuff that we understand but they were really earnest and enthusiastic, so we said Hokay.
Uncle Lim makes his background appearance at 0:10. Nomming action begins at 5:00.
In Mandarin, no subtitles.
Wish we knew how to caption YouTube videos.
Muar Otah Vadai
Flour, lentils, salt, ground ikan bilis, spring onions, shallots, Muar Otah.
$1.50 each, or $5.60 for a box of 4.
Comes with chilli vinaigrette and fresh green chillies.
Muar Otah (comes in frozen blocks)
Mackerel, tumeric, red chilli, green chilli, salt, garlic, shallots, lemongrass, coconut milk.
Each frozen block of otah weighs approx. 195g and measures 5″ x 2.5″ and is about 1″ thick.
Pre-order for self-pickup: Call/SMS 86888575 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org