Saturday, September 15, 2012

Recipe: Sarawak Umai scallops

Umai is a local delicacy from Sarawak (raw fish salad). It is traditionally made with fish or prawns. It is a staple food for the Melanau ethnic group, especially the fishermen (I read somewhere that the fisherman would make umai from freshly caught fish on their boat for their lunch). It is sometimes nicknamed as "Sarawak sushi" due to the use of raw fish/seafood.

Umai scallops


To make umai, the most important thing is to use fresh produce since no cooking is involved. I was a little wary about using local fish or prawns to make this since I wasn't 100% sure how fresh they were, so I used sashimi-grade scallops instead but still sticking to the umai preparation method. The recipe I am using is adapted from Chef Rossham Rusli - I made the Sarawak braised beef soup using his recipe and it turned out really well so I was confident to use his recipe again.



The method of preparation is similar to the Peruvian ceviche, where the seafood is marinated in citrus. Both umai and ceviche require no physical cooking, the citrus (in this case lime) does the “cooking”  - the citric acid causes the protein in the seafood to become denatured, the same way as heat does. I watched as the scallop turn from a translucent pinkish to white in a matter of minutes.



What makes umai different from ceviche is the addition of lemongrass, chillies ginger and garlic. I liked it a lot - light, refreshing and appetizing with tangy flavours - the umai scallops would work very well as an appetizer. It can  also be prepared as a quick lunch, as it takes less than 30 minutes to assemble. Best of all, no pots and pans to wash after I finished eating them all. ;)



Umai scallops
Recipe adapted from Kuali.com - Chef Rossham Rusli
Preparation time: 25-30 minutes
Serves 2 as appetizer


Ingredients (A)
8 large scallops (approx. 150g)
6 limes, juiced (limau kasturi)
A pinch of sugar
1/4 tsp salt
A pinch of white pepper

Ingredients (B)
4-5 red chillies (I used cili padi)
3cm lemongrass
1/2 clove garlic
1 shallot
1.5cm ginger
A few coriander leaves

Garnishing
2 cherry tomatoes, cut into quarters
Ulam raja, 4-5 leaves

1. Wash the scallops and pat dry. Using a sharp knife, slice each scallop into 3 thin slices. Place in a bowl with lime juice, sugar, salt and white pepper and mix well. Marinate the scallop in the lime juice for 10-15 minutes. You can place this in the fridge as it is nice eaten cold.




2. Meanwhile, finely chop the lemongrass, shallot, garlic, ginger and coriander. The red chillies (or cili padi) can be roughly chopped. 

3. Put ingredient B into the bowl with the marinated scallop and toss well. Leave to marinate for a further 5 minutes and for the flavours to infuse.

4. On a plate, arrange the ulam raja and then place the umai scallop on to the ulam. Garnish with tomatoes and drizzle with some of the marination juice.




Check out my other Sarawak dishes here: Sarawak braised beef soup and stir fried manicai with eggs. Full set of photos can be viewed on my Facebook page here. 

*Note: Feel free to substitute scallops with FRESH fish or prawns.

*This recipe was featured on Asian Food Channel's FB page on 17 September 2012.





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23 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thanks, it was indeed appetizing. Good for whetting one's appetite.

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  2. Can I use a vinegar instead of a lime juice?

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    Replies
    1. Yes, but of course, not so nice. Many Malay stalls here do that. No lime fragrance.

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    2. Hmmm I would suggest that you use lime. It would taste much better. If you cannot get hold of lime, you can use lemon.

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  3. Oooo...love your presentation! So exquisite.

    Must be out of this world - nice twist, using scallops. They use canned top shell as well but I'm sure it is not as nice as this...or very good fresh fish cut into long strips.

    Try adding a little bit of belacan to the lime juice - will bring the taste to a whole new level.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Arthur! I dont really like belacan, unless it's stir fried with kangkung or in laksa.. hehe. I think I will try this when I can get fresh prawns. Really liked it.

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  4. wow, a premium version of umai! this looks incredibly, incredibly gorgeous (and i'm 100 percent sure it's incredibly delicious too) :D there used to be a sarawakian restaurant in taman tun that served umai, and it was quite nice, but they closed a couple of years ago...

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    1. Aww Sean, you sure know how to brighten up someone's day. I was googling umai scallops and the only link I found was Makan Kitchen's menu from MIGF a couple of yrs ago. It was indeed a very nice tasting dish - really love the addition of lemongrass cos it made it so fragrant.

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  5. I love scallop! And it looks so pretty!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks CK! Glad I have all these herbs readily available in our garden.

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  6. Hi Yen, love your blog. I love scallops too, where do you get those plump looking ones? Yummy!

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  7. Hi Yen, love your blog. I love scallops too, where do you get those plump looking ones? Yummy!

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    Replies
    1. Hi there, they are usually available in supermarkets over here.

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    2. And thanks so much for dropping by at my blog ;)

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  8. Beautiful dish which must taste absolutely great (if the flavors which are playing in my mind are correct!) Would love to try this out!

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    Replies
    1. Yes, if u can get yr hands on some fresh seafood, this would be a great way to prepare it.

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  9. the food was very nice decorated....

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  10. Hi Baby Sumo, wow! delectable dish. Your presentation look gorgeous. 2 thumbs up for you.

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  11. Umai is a very unique dish in Sarawak. Our very own local sushi. You guys want to have the taste of Umai? Then come over to Sarawak. It is not only Umai...Sarawak alone is a blessing to all KIND of foods. Ranging from traditional to fusion. Here is a website that will give you a glimpse on what Sarawak is like...

    www.facebook.com/pages/Pakej-Percutian-Sabah-Sarawak-Travel/147676668611398?ref=hl

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