I am pretty sure that a substantial number of you out there do not know what this is. Well, it is called umai

Umai 1

Now, umai is a special Melanau delicacy and for the initiated, the Melanaus are the dominant race around the lower reaches and the delta region of the Rejang River. It is made from raw fish – cut into thin strips and mixed with sliced onions and chillies and lots of calamansi lime juice.

Umai 2

Of course, for it to be nice, the fish must be fresh and the quality of the fish plays a part too. Some will say that certain fish would be best for making umai but I am not really that fussy – as long as it tastes nice and there are no bones. This one that I bought from my regular Bandong food stall is made with ikan yu or shark and all that only cost RM5.00.

I also bought this bowl of asam sotong (cuttlefish/squid with tamarind) for RM5.00…

Asam sotong 1

It was really delicious and the gravy was great with rice.

With all these nice stuff so easily available and so affordable too, is it any wonder at all that I do not really feel like cooking these days?

Author: suituapui

Ancient relic but very young at heart. Enjoys food and cooking...and travelling and being with friends.

37 thoughts on “Fresh…”

  1. Umai… yes, never seen or heard of it before.. looks like shredded chicken bits to me than fish… must be very appetitising if eaten with rice.

    Yahor! Similar to the Thai chicken salad…but the chicken is cooked and shredded. Ya…very nice, best with rice.

  2. umai?? we called it as hinava , i mean for kadazan dusun, traditional food! my uncle know how to do it. πŸ™‚ but it i easy to get it also la, go any food court oso can get it. πŸ™‚

    Here, we can get at some restaurants…and some Malay food stalls.

    1. malay food stalls selling those?? seriously?

      Yup! Don’t think many Chinese here are familiar with those – unless they’re more adventurous like me. I know they do serve that at a hotel cafe here – very nice too but of course, you have to pay more. LOL!!! πŸ˜€

  3. haven’t had umai in ages! Yeah,if i were u i won’t cook as much too since food is so readily available,yummy n not so expensive. cooking for 2 only can be very tiresome.

    Yalor…that’s what I keep telling the missus but I guess she enjoys her weekly routine of going out the whole of Saturday morning marketing and shopping and stuffing the fridge with all kinds of stuff – after some time, I would have to go through and see what I can salvage and cook and what must be thrown away… 😦

  4. I LOVE umai!!! Yum yum!!! Just had it for lunch last week from my regular economical rice stall πŸ˜› 2 weeks ago I had prawn umai. I like both but I prefer the fish one.

    A lot of people don’t know how to eat lor. I remember very well that there was one episode of Amazing Race Asia where the contestants were in Miri for their first round and one of the tasks was to make (actually mix) and eat the umai. There was a team of Malay girls from W.M. vomited after just the first few scoops.

    Not to sound mean but I was ROTFLMAO when I saw that! πŸ˜›

    Why would they vomit? It actually tastes nice – no fishy taste whatsoever – sweet,spicy and sour. Must be all in the head. Strange these people – never eaten sashimi before meh?

    1. Beats me. I love umai but none in my family like umai, don’t know why. I only bought umai during bazaar ramadhan last time coz I didn’t know where wlse to get it.

      Chipmunk won’t touch umai (or anything raw, for that matter) with a 10 foot pole. He’s very psychological wan. (Thank goodness, no one rebut with me πŸ˜› )

      Poor thing. So where can you get good, nice umai in Kuching? Gerrie’s looking for some place to get some…

      1. Near my office, the huana economical rice stall (at The Colony) near my office (or KNB’s office) sometimes got fish or prawn umai for lunch. I didn’t have food poisoning so I guess it’s okay.

        The best, of course, is the freshly cut fish one can find anywhere in the wet market in Mukah.

        Yup…I bought from there (Mukah) before. Very nice…and I think the guy used shallots, not Bombay onions…or mixed – more wangi, I would think.

  5. Yum! Umai! I like! Prawn umai is also nice.

    LOL!!! Drool! Drool! Never tried prawn umai – raw too? I’ve tried the canned topshell umai…but nothing to shout about.

  6. I’ve heard of Umai but never know what it is. I should really try this… seems like I’m missing out a lot on local food.. πŸ˜›

    Gosh! I thought your mum would be familiar with all these things – yunno how lady teachers always share recipes, food and what not! πŸ˜€

  7. That’s why we can have shark’s fin in Sarawak. We don’t waste any part of the shark…. fins for the soup and the meat for umai.

    That’s a jolly good excuse for you to eat sharks’ fins soup eh? LOL!!! πŸ˜€

  8. wah this looks nice. I’m sure it’s gonna be a very nice appetiser!

    I’m sure it is… The sour taste will definitely stir up the appetite and make you wanna eat more! πŸ™‚

  9. Always a favourite. Fresh umai with roasted sagu…that’s the way I like it…yum

    Ah!!! Finally, you’ve decided to drop by, Georgie! Welcome and do come often to join the rest and post a comment or two. Ya…that’s how they serve umai at Garden Hotel Cafe here – with sagu’…but to tell the truth, I’m not into those sago pellets. Miyak kau…mei ta’au keman! LOL!!! πŸ˜€

  10. Haven’t tried umai before but I am not really into fish, takut fishy smell…LOL!

    Where got fishy smell? Must be good fish and must be really fresh…and it’s soaked in all that calamansi lime juice plus the onions and the chillies – if there had been any smell, there wouldn’t be any left. You haven’t eaten sashimi before? That one’s worse – you dip in the sauce, the raw fish is not soaked inside.

  11. Umai? I don’t mind ! Wowie looking good. Lovely together with the sotong very likely in cloud nine..haha tQ.

    Come, come to Sibu and you can have those and more! Real yummy and cheap some more. πŸ™‚

  12. I thought it looked more like ulam to me, anyway never heard of umai before…have a great week ahead cikgu

    That’s why I keep saying – you people over that side dunno much about us. Make a trip over here and experience all that we have to offer. So many different things that you do not have over there. You have a great week too!

  13. the umai looks spicy..btw, its made of raw fish and cut into thin strips and mixed with sliced onions and chillies and lots of calamansi lime juice.

    does it means it like a sashimi version?

    It’s cut in strips – I think sashimi’s usually in very thin slices…plus it’s soaked in calamansi line juice, mixed together with the onions and the chillies….while sashimi, you dip in the sauce and eat it. Sashimi, the fish must be fresh or else you may end up with tummy upset – this one, the fish is already “cooked” by the acidity of the lime juice – no problem.

    1. oh~ like that huh. so the acidity lime juice is the key. thanks for the info.

      Yup! Just like when making salad dressing, sometimes the recipe calls for a raw egg…and then have to pour vinegar over the egg – that would cook it too.

  14. Oooh…now where can I get this in Kuching? I’ve seen it in some food stalls, but looked dodgy and iffy, and have never dared buy in case it’s not fresh.

    Tabuan Laru! Gundot makes good umai…so in return for the FIVE-O birthday treat, she can make you some soon! LOL!!! Hope she’s reading this! πŸ˜€

  15. Havent seen this delicacy before, but as u said with the gravy on rice i m sure will add more scoops of rice.

    There! Come to Sibu! Come to Sarawak! You people really don’t know what you’re missing!

  16. LOL… Umai! I’ve eaten this in Malaysia Hall dinosaur ages ago. Very nice… but not quite my thing…cuz the fish is raw. I would have preferred the sotong asam any day tho. Yummy!

    Malaysia Hall? London? Gee! That’s amazing…!!! Maybe they did not do a good job in making it. It doesn’t really taste like raw…or uncooked, not like sashimi – probably because of the acidic effect of the lime. I guess you don’t take sashimi too? Oysters?

    1. Yup, Malaysia Hall, london… they were having some sort of cultural fest there, and there’s all sort of msian food there. Umai included. There’s even Tahi Itik from kelantan. I took some umai, but din really like it, cuz the fish tasted raw. 😦 I dun fancy raw things, and yes, I dun take sashimi or raw oyster. LOL… I prefer my food properly cooked. 😦

  17. will not simply eat umai unless I know the person who make it..had food poisoning once .. the fish not fresh.
    Ha-u mentioned missus like to do marketing and stock up the fridge-I have that habit too..its the joy of marketing.

    Humph!!! Has this got something to do with being a woman…or is this relevant to “monkeys” only? You two were born in the same year, right? Hahahahaha!!!! Ya, must be clean and the fish must be fresh… Can’t just simply buy e.g. at the ramadan stalls. This stall’s umai is very popular – they have that for sale quite often.

  18. wah…never heard and eat before…umai….looks spicy…

    Not surprised. Many things about us that you people over the other side do not know. I read the recent reports – the reporters did not even know how to call the people of Sibu! Tsk! Tsk!

  19. Umai, does it have strong fishy smell? if yes i beh tahan one

    I love sotong πŸ˜€

    Nope…no fishy smell – otherwise, I wouldn’t want to eat either! Must use the right type of fish and must be fresh.

  20. ohh….really don’t know the 1st dish – Umai. But the 2nd dish – sotong … so yummy !!!!

    See…at least, by dropping by my blog, you get to learn a thing or two about us Sarawakians.

  21. The fish looks like chicken strips to me. The meat must be firm and juicy πŸ™‚

    Shredded chicken done this way = Thai-style salad. Here, we have fish…and prawns too, it seems. Never tasted that myself.

  22. first time hearing umai. Something sour and spicy right? I like!

    Yup, sour and spicy. You like? I thought usually females like sour stuff? Hahahahaha!!!! πŸ˜€

  23. i feel so hungry! nice shoots! ….yummy!

    Glad you like what you see, thanks. Your first time here, so welcome and do drop by again. Will link you in my blogroll.

  24. umai seem,look n smell nice sure it taste nice but i nvr eat b4…

    sotong i leave it 4 u as tat too oily sumore my constipation quite smooth nowadaes so no nnid grease… πŸ˜›

    Wah! Like that if you eat too-kha or pork belly, sure you tua lau sai lor!!! Hahahahaha!!! πŸ˜€

  25. The type of fish most favored by the Melanau are “ikan empirang”. These are tiny fish (about 7 inches long, 2 inches high and may be only 0.5 inch wide. Yellowish/orange in color) with lots and lots of bone. But by slicing it diagonally, you literally do not feel the bone at all. Guaranteed.

    My favorite place for Umai in Sibu is at Kasturi Restaurant’s (2.292945,111.8261). Their umai is very unlike the traditional umai but very nice nevertheless. Their secret is their sauce. You should go and have a try.

    I’ve tried Kasturi’s. Very good too…but the last time I went, they did not seem to have anything at all – just ayam masak kicap and some other miserable stuff, so we left immediately. Heard they’re going to close down – and now they have a place in Bandong. The towkay’s sister-in-law runs the stall selling Malay breakfast items and all the kuih-miuhs in the morning – the one I go to almost every morning.

    You can try the umai at Garden Hotel cafe – they used to have it and it was very nice. I think Fisherman (Old Street) has it too but I have never tried theirs. I’ve seen it at the stalls next to New Capitol…but I dunno how clean theirs would be. This Bandong food stall (opens lunch hour only) that I frequent has it quite regularly…and theirs is usually quite good and they’re clean too (The sister of the towkay is a nurse – Sister Rosni, I think, her name is…). I’ve heard from the sellers in Mukah about the best fish for umai…but I can’t remember the name(s) now.

  26. anything with raw fish I likey! i guess the lime kinda ‘cook’ the fish for you rite? i’d love to try this dish. cant get it here though.. 😦

    I don’t think you can get that there… Maybe you can try at that Borneo Rainforest place opposite Sunway Hotel? Tiara Jacquelina owns the place and if I’m not mistaken, her YB hubby comes from that place where umai originates from…

  27. I have also tried umai made from black Pomfret fish and never liked it. The skin is just too rubbery thick and very unlike the usual umai.

    As for Kasturi, I don’t know what fish they use.

    I’ve tried that too…and I did not quite like it. My late auntie’s maid used to make using black pomfret. Maybe nicer with the white ones…but they’re so expensive.

  28. umai! sure i never try before.

    Can we eat it everywhere in Sibu?

    Are you sure you are from Kuching? Or from Sarawak for that matter? You can get that everywhere here…but at the Malay/Melanau stalls and restaurants. You’re West Malaysian married a Kuching wife or what?

All opinions expressed in my blog are solely my own, that is my prerogative - you may or may not agree, that is yours. To each his/her own. For food and other reviews, you may email me at

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