How to make: Sago (tapioca pearls) and mango dessert
Common need not be boring. This very common Chinese dessert made with soft and chewy sago, pureed mangoes and coconut cream is a refreshing break from heavy cakes and pies. In Asia, sago can be bought cooked in many markets. If you can get your hands on cooked sago, then, this is a no-cook dessert. If not, you can buy dried sago and boil them at home.
As a trivia, I am curious as to how sago came to be known as tapioca pearls. They are different things, actually. Tapioca is a starch extracted from cassava while sago is a starch that comes from the sago palm. But since, in common parlance, these two food terms are used interchangeably, for purposes of convenience, I am using the term tapioca pearls to refer to sago.
When using dried sago, make sure that no white center remains to make sure that they are cooked through and there are no hard centers. Most packs of dried sago come with cooking directions. Basically, it only involves boiling in water with a lot of stirring.
For best results, choose the smallest sago that you can find. Oh, yes, they do come in different sizes. And different (artificial) colors too.
- 2 c. of cooked sago (tapioca pearls), chilled for best results
3/4 to 1 c. of pureed mangoes, chilled
1/2 to 3/4 c. of coconut cream (if using fresh, see how to extract coconut cream; canned coconut cream is an okay substitute), chilled
sugar, to taste
chopped fresh mangoes, optional
crushed ice, optional
In a large bowl, stir together the sago and pureed mangoes. Add enough sugar to taste.
There are two ways to serve this sago and mango dessert. First is to stir in the coconut cream with the sago, sugar and pureed mangoes, and then ladle them into individual bowls. The second is to ladle the sweetened sago and pureed mangoes into individual bowls and drizzle the coconut cream afterward. Your choice, really. The first option is more convenient and less messy. The second option is better for presentation purposes.
Of course, I chose the first option because I’m not big on presentation. I just mixed everything together.
If you want, you can stir in chopped mangoes and crushed ice just before serving. The pieces of mangoes will add a nice texture to the dessert while the crushed ice will ensure that the dessert is served cold. Be careful about how much ice you add though because as the ice melts, it will dilute the sweetness and thickness of the dessert.
That said, you can easily make this wonderful dessert at home. Very refreshing. Very tasty. Very comforting.
Cooking time (duration):5 minutes
Number of servings (yield): 4 to 6
Meal type: dessert