This Taro Coconut Sago Dessert Soup is rich, creamy and light Asian dessert featuring sago/tapioca pearls cooked with coconut milk and chunks of taro.
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What is a dessert soup?
The notion of a dessert soup is commonly found in Chinese cuisine.
Known in Cantonese as "tong sui," or literally "sugar water," it is a sweet soup that Chinese restaurants serve at the end of a meal as a dessert.
There are many varieties of Chinese sweet soup desserts, including black sesame soup, red bean soup, tofu pudding (dau fu fa), sago dessert soup (sai mai lo), and bean curd skin ginkgo egg soup, and mango pomelo sago, amongst others.
What is taro?
Taro is a starchy root vegetable, with a dark brown exterior and a beige interior with purple flecks.
Taro is very starchy and has a slight sweet, nutty flavor, and is used to make poi, a Hawaiian staple.
What is sago?
Sago comes from the sago palm plant and is processed into a food product closely resembling tapioca pearls.
They are have similarities in shape and size, and once cooked, they turn translucent and chewy, a common addition to many Asian desserts, such as bubur cha cha, mango pomelo sago or strawberry sago popsicles.
Sago is difficult to find, especially in North America, and so, tapioca pearls are frequently used "interchangeably" with sago.
Why you'll love this recipe
This recipe for Taro Coconut Sago is:
Minimal in ingredients: with only 6 ingredients, it's easy to prepare.
Creamy: the natural starches in taro help thicken the soup, giving it its inherent rich creaminess.
Lightly sweet: as with many Chinese desserts, using rock sugar adds a mild sweetness to the taro sago soup.
Enjoyed hot or cold: you can enjoy this dessert hot or cold, making it a delicious treat anytime.
Ingredients you'll need
- fresh taro: peeled and cut into ¾" chunks
- small sago/tapioca pearls: you can find these packaged in Asian supermarkets
- yellow rock sugar: is a crystalline chunk of sugar that looks like rocks and has a less sweeter flavor than granulated sugar; or you can also use palm sugar, or a reduced amount of granulated sugar
- coconut milk: preferably canned, full-fat coconut milk
- pandan leaf: optional; knotted; you can also use vanilla extract instead if you prefer a vanilla flavor
You can find these ingredients at your local Asian grocery store or supermarket.
How to make it
Cook the sago:
Add the sago pearls and 1 ½ C water to a small pot.
Bring the pearls to a boil and cover with a lid. Turn off the heat.
Remove from the heat and let it sit (covered) for 7-8 minutes.
Remove the lid, transfer sago to a sieve and rinse the pearls under cold water.
Drain and set aside.
Cook the taro:
In a large pot, add in taro, pandan leaf (optional), rock sugar and water, cover with a lid and bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes, until the taro is fork-tender.
Add in the coconut milk and stir, until heated through.
Transfer the cooked sago pearls into the soup, and stir until incorporated and heated through.
Remove from heat and ladle into serving bowls.
How to serve & store
You can serve Taro Sago Dessert Soup chilled or warm.
Store any leftover sweet soup in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
If you have extra, freeze them into Taro Popsicles.
As the taro sago soup sits, the soup will thicken.
If it has thickened too much, add a little more water or coconut milk to thin it out to your desired consistency.
You can adjust the sweetness to your liking.
Note: yellow rock sugar tastes less sweet than regular granulated sugar. If using granulated sugar, add less than the stated amount.
Sago or tapioca pearls do not need to be soaked before cooking.
If you don't have pandan leaf, you can omit it. I like adding pandan leave as it adds a subtle vanilla-like flavor to the soup, similar to bubur cha cha (Malaysian coconut dessert soup).
Other taro recipes you may like
Be sure to check out these recipes:
Taro Ice Cream
Let me know if you try out this recipe -- tag me on Instagram @siftandsimmer or leave me a comment/rating below!
Taro Coconut Sago Dessert Soup
For accuracy and precision in baking recipes, use weight (metric) measurements when available.
- ⅓ C (60g) sago/tapioca pearls
- 1 ½ C water
- ½ lb fresh taro cut into ¾" chunks
- 1 pandan leaf knotted, optional
- 100 g rock sugar or granulated sugar (use less)
- 375 ml water
- 200 ml coconut milk
Cook the sago:
- Add the sago pearls and 1 ½ C water to a small pot.
- Bring the pearls to a boil and cover with a lid. Turn off the heat.
- Remove from the heating element and let it sit (covered) for 7-8 minutes.
- Remove the lid, transfer sago to a sieve and rinse the pearls under cold water. Drain and set aside.
Cook the taro:
- In a large pot, add in taro, pandan leaf (optional), rock sugar and water, cover with a lid and bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes, until the taro is fork-tender.
- Add in the coconut milk and stir, until the milk is heated through.
- Transfer the cooked sago pearls into the soup, and stir until incorporated and heated through.
- Remove from heat and ladle into serving bowls.
The nutritional information provided should be considered as approximate and is not guaranteed. Please use your best judgment to ensure food is safely prepared and/or a good fit for your diet.