I’ve had a thing for tapioca ever since I was little. For lunch on a Sunday my Nanna used to make one of her standard desserts which were rotated each week from amongst her classica: baked custard, bread & butter pudding, blancmange, trifle or lemon sago pudding. Sago, of course, was my favourite because I used to love the little balls of sago that would roll around in your mouth that you weren’t ever quite able to chew because they were so totally indestructible.
It wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I learned the difference between sago and tapioca and in case you didn’t know, sago comes from the pith of the sago palm and tapioca comes from the tuber called cassava, which also incidentally contains cyanide. I suppose that’s too much information, but you never know when that question will come up on Trivial Pursuit so just file it away for future reference.
In Japan I was introduced to the delights of coconut tapioca and every now and then when we’ve got a stray can of coconut milk in the cupboard, I make tapioca with coconut. It’s my dessert of choice usually because you can make it in about 20 minutes, whereas puddings require overnight soaking and setting – which is just no good when you need a sugar fix, NOW! Lol.
We had some uberly large tapioca pearls in the pantry and a tin of milk:
For two people you’ll need about 100g of tapioca and 400ml of coconut milk (or 200ml of coconut cream and 200ml of milk). I boiled the tapioca in lots of water for about 40minutes. If you’re using smaller pearls 15-20mins should be enough. They are ready when they are almost translucent, but it’s okay if some of them still have a small patch of white inside, just don’t leave too much white or you’ve have crunchy, crumbly tapioca.
Then you rinse the tapioca well and return it to the pan. Make sure you use a strainer with small enough holes and preferably something not made of metal because tapioca loves to get stuck in metal mesh and you’ll be scrubbing it out for days. I’m thinking cheesecloth would probably work great for this.
Add the coconut milk, a tsp of vanilla essence and sugar to taste – probably about 1/4 cup. Heat until the milk mixture is warmed through and then it’s ready!
You can also serve it cold which is also fantastic – if you can stop yourself from hoeing into the tapioca straight away.