This is a childhood favourite, a welcomed cooling treat during the hot season. Generous amount of crushed ice was added to the creamy coconut milk mixed with caramel-like sugar syrup and chewy sago pearls. This recipe is very simple and you can add additional flavours and textures to it if you wish. The real secret is a pinch of salt which brings out the taste of the coconut milk.
I have not had this for quite sometime and was reminded of it when we were in Taiwan last February. Known as boba or bubble tea, large brightly coloured pearls were served in chilled milky tea, a popular drink amongst the young people. We then had a similar dessert/drink in Kuala Lumpur which had the addition of balls of honeydew melon or the coconut milk was flavoured with pandan leaves.
100g large sago pearls
1 litre water
50ml coconut milk
pinch of salt
30g palm sugar, grated
100ml coconut milk, chilled (possibly more if you prefer)
Best to use a heavy-bottom saucepan for this so the sago does not stick to the bottom. Bring the water to a boil and add the sago pearls. Stir with a wooden spoon and pop the lid on. Reduce the heat to moderate and simmer for 30-45 minutes depending on the size of the pearls. Stir every 10 minutes to make sure they do not stick to the bottom of the pan.
In the meantime, put the palm sugar and 50ml water in a saucepan. On moderate heat, stir until dissolved and strain through a sieve to remove any sediment and leave to cool.
When the sago is almost transparent all the way through, turn off the heat. Stir one more time and leave to cook in the residue heat with the lid on. After a further 30 minutes, pour into a colander and run cold water to stop the cooking process and rise away any stickiness. The pearls should be totally transparent when cooked through.
Transfer to a bowl and pour 50ml of coconut milk, sprinkle with salt and stir. This will keep the pearls separate and keep them pearly white.
Divide the sago between two glasses. Pour the coconut milk and palm sugar to taste. Best served chilled.
Cooking time: 30-45 mins