SEMPORNA, Feb 20 — Nasi Tehe-tehe or sea urchin (sea hedgehog) rice is a special food for the Bajau Laut or sea gypsy community here.

Romzi Bilgari, 35, said tehe-tehe rice could be eaten raw, or cooked and eaten with putu or steamed tapioca.

“The round shell of the sea urchin serves as a small pot to cook the rice,” he told Bernama here recently.

He said tehe-tehe which is one of the basic foods of the Bajau Laut community must be boiled first to ‘soften’ its spines for easier removal.


“Its entrails will be removed and the inner part of the shell washed to remove any remaining discards and to ensure that the rice being cooked in the shell will not smell,” he said. 

He said his wife had mastered the art of preparing the rice mixed with a pinch of salt and sugar and some ginger in the shell.

“To enhance the taste, other types of seafood such as squid and prawn which are finely sliced are added into the rice,” he said.


Romzi said the shell would be covered with coconut leaves to prevent the rice from spilling out while being cooked for half an hour.

He said the shallow waters off Semporna’s coral reefs and Pulau Mabul were very conducive for the breeding of tehe-tehe, which are sold at RM15 for 10 pieces with the value increasing, depending on size.

“The tehe-tehe rice commonly sold at the local market is not only popular with residents. Foreign tourists are also interested to try them out,” he said. — Bernama