Chef's Recipes

Nama sea pearls

Recipe for nama sea pearls by Louis Tikaram from EP & LP in Los Angeles.

By Louis Tikaram
  • 30 mins preparation
  • Serves 6 - 8
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Nama sea pearls
"This is a traditional Fijian seaweed dish served as part of a shared meal, although it's delicious by itself as a starter or snack," says Louis Tikaram. "In Los Angeles, I use a Hawaiian seaweed similar to what I used in Fiji. For all you Aussies, there's now a Fijian family company called Pacific Seaweeds that sells nama just as I used to buy it from Suva Market on Saturday morning."


  • 2 mature coconuts
  • 200 gm nama sea pearls (see note)
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, quartered, seeds discarded, finely chopped
  • 2 red shallots, finely diced
  • 2 long red chillies, halved, seeds discarded, thinly sliced
  • 1½ limes
  • To serve: micro-coriander and quartered cherry tomatoes


  • 1
    Crack open coconuts with the back of a heavy knife or cleaver over a bowl (reserve water for use in curries or soups; it keeps refrigerated for 1-2 days), scrape out the white flesh with a coconut scraper (see note), stopping at the brown membrane. Mix flesh in a large bowl with 125ml cold water then, working in batches, squeeze through a piece of cheesecloth to extract as much milk as possible. Makes about 350ml.
  • 2
    Rinse nama in a sieve under slow-running cold water until bright and plump (20 seconds; be careful not to rinse off all the sea flavour). Drain well, then combine in a large bowl with coconut milk, tomato, shallot, chilli and a pinch of salt. Squeeze in lime juice to taste and serve in small bowls or, as I like to serve it at the restaurant, in the coconut shells. The flavour should be hot and rich from the chilli and fresh coconut milk, and the nama will burst in the mouth with sea-like salty flavour. Serve scattered with micro-coriander and cherry tomatoes.


Note Nama sea pearls or sea grapes are a sea succulent. Also known as umibudo, they're available from Good Grub Hub. Coconut scrapers are available from Asian supermarkets, but you can also remove the flesh from the shell, peel off the skin and grate it finely.
Drink Suggestion: Champagne. Drink suggestion by Louis Tikaram