Raw With Chef Yin - You Say Kerabu, I Say Ke-Raw-Bu
Mains & Sides

Raw With Chef Yin - You Say Kerabu, I Say Ke-Raw-Bu


25 October 2016


Ke-Raw-Bu? But isn’t Kerabu already raw, you may ask?

Kerabu is basically a mixed variety of leafy herbs tossed with edible shoots, buds, and flowers, and includes some kind of meat, together with a sauce which contains dried shrimp paste. So although the ingredients are mainly raw, there are usually cooked elements as well as meat.

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Which is why I’ve come up with Ke-Raw-Bu, which is totally plant-based! While doing so, I am also conscious about keeping the elements of traditional kerabu as intact as possible so that the taste remains pretty similar to the kerabu you’d normally have.

A big shoutout to Chef Norzailina Nordin, better known as Celebrity Chef Lin, as her mini cookbook on Kerabu was my main reference and inspiration for many of my Ke-Raw-Bu creations! Thank you Chef Lin :)

Important Elements of Kerabu or even Ke-Raw-Bu

1. Heat
This is normally from chilli. You can use red chillies, green chillies or my favourite - bird’s eye chilli. Yup, I’m totally a cili padi fan!

2. Sour
You can get a lovely tangy, sour flavour from tamarind juice, lime juice, calamansi juice and I would also add lemon juice. Perhaps lemon juice isn’t so traditional... but hey, it works!

3. Sweet
Apparently, there’s always sugar in a Kerabu dish. I usually put just a sprinkling of it, and I stick to healthy sugar options which are organic and have a low glycemic index.

4. Creamy
For a creamy texture, add some thick coconut milk.

5. Texture
Kerisik which is pounded roasted grated coconut lends texture and creaminess. For Ke-Raw-Bu, you can place freshly grated coconut in a dehydrator to achieve a similar texture. Alternatively, if you have a Thermomix, you can heat it up at 45°C in your Thermomix. I find that it does actually bring out the coconut fragrance even at that low temperature.

Raw With Chef Yin - What Usually Goes Into a Ke-Raw-Bu?

In Malaysia, we’re really lucky to have such an abundance of edible leaves and herbs that can be included into a Ke-Raw-Bu salad such as:

  • Ulam Raja
  • Coriander leaves
  • Chillies
  • Lemongrass
  • Laksa Leaves
  • Limes
  • Torch Ginger Flower
  • Tamarind pulp
  • Kaffir Lime Leaves

Traditionally, ingredients such as dried shrimp, anchovies and dried shrimp paste are added into the Kerabu to give it the extra oomph! So what can raw foodies use as substitutes? I usually add in miso paste, dulse powder or tamari, depending on the recipe and the taste that I’d like to achieve. To replace meat, you could use jackfruit or shredded king oyster mushrooms.

Ulam vs Kerabu - What’s the Difference?

I asked Celebrity Chef Lin and this was her very informative and detailed reply:

Ulam (plural: ulam-ulaman) are the leafy herbs/roots/fruits/shoots/flowers usually served with condiments (eg. sambal belacan, sambal tempoyak, budu, cencalok, etc) and almost always eaten with rice.

Some common ulam include: cucumber, daun selom, pucuk gajus, daun kaduk, petai, jantung pisang, ulam raja, daun tenggek burung, etc.

Kerabu is a mixture of all sorts of ulam (vegetable-based) with the addition of (protein-based) prawns, shredded chicken, beef, cockles often tossed in a sauce made of chillies, dried shrimp paste, black pepper and sometimes thick coconut milk. The kerabu taste must be balanced - crunchy, sweet, sour and the sourness might come from tamarind juice, lime juice or sliced bilimbi (belimbing buluh), etc.

Nasi Ulam - rice with several types of ulam, fried salted fish (flesh tossed together), black pepper, etc.

Nasi Kerabu - rice (sometimes blue) served with assorted ulam (usually combined without sauce), fish/chicken percik, coconut/fish serunding, fried fish fritter, budu (the Kelantanese-way), keropok, etc.

Now that you know a bit more about Ke-Raw-Bu, let’s make one!

Green Mango Ke-Raw-Bu

This is inspired by my travels to Thailand. The traditional Thai Green Mango Kerabu has lime, fish sauce, sugar, bird's eye chilli, and sometimes dried shrimp, coriander plus roasted peanuts.

I wanted to make mine raw vegan, so here you go:


  • 1 big unripe mango, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 3/4 tablespoon miso (make sure this has no added MSG)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar or to taste
  • 1-2 bird's eye chillies depending on how spicy you want it
  • Some kelp, because seaweed has minerals and is nutrient-dense
  • 1 tablespoon of hemp seeds
  • A sprinkling of sunflower seeds
  • A handful of coriander, chopped
  • 1 shallot (optional, may be omitted)


  1. Using a grater or a peeler with grooves, grate unripe mango so you get nice thin ribbons.
  2. Mix lime juice, miso, sugar to make a dressing.
  3. Mix in grated mango with dressing.
  4. Chop shallots, coriander and chillies finely and add to the dressing along with the kelp.
  5. Mix thoroughly so that the mango is evenly coated with all the ingredients.
  6. Sprinkle hemp seeds and sunflower seeds.

If you’d like to watch me make a Ke-Raw-Bu in person (plus my other raw takes on Malaysian favourites such Satay Sauce, Pegaga Chips, Delicious Crackers), sign up for my Malaysian Flavours: Raw Food Demo on 5th November 2016 here.