Looking back through my blog stats, this is by far the most popular recipe searched. There aren’t a lot of Chinese cookbooks that feature this recipe, I wonder why? Its such a beautiful, exotic dessert.
This is a recipe from my Mom – she used to serve this in the summer time to cool off. Usually its made with honeydew, but the cantelope was on sale, ripe and smelled so fresh! This isn’t a very well-known dessert in Asian American restaurants, but it can be found in dim-sum eateries in Hong Kong as a perfect ending to a meal.
We served this as dessert after our Korean BBQ feast. It was just the right dessert to enjoy to cool us down after all the smoky heat of BBQ.
Tapioca Pearls with Sweet Coconut & Cantelope
2/3 cup Tapioca (tapioca pearls – not the instant stuff! I used a very small size)
1 cup whole milk
2 cups coconut milk (full fat)
3 cups water
1 1/2 cups sugar
Fruit: honeydew or cantelope, diced small
Bring water and sugar to boil. Turn heat down to low, add the milk and stir. Once the mixture is almost back to a boil, turn off the heat. Add the coconut milk and stir. Remove from heat and cool in refrigerator.
While coconut milk mixture is cooling, soak tapioca pearls in cold water for 20 minutes. The pearls will expand a little and turn bright white. Bring 4 cups of water to a boil – and add the tapioca pearls. Stir constantly for 2 minutes. The pearls will turn translucent. Turn off the heat and drain the pearls in a fine sieve. Immediately use cold running water to rinse the pearls and stop the cooking process. Set the pearls aside until ready to serve.
When ready to serve, ladle the coconut milk into each bowl, add a spoonful of tapioca and top with diced fruit. Enjoy!
Don’t boil the coconut milk – it makes it oily. For curries, its fine, because its a hot spicy dish. But for a cool, simple dessert, you need to make sure that the heat is turned off before stirring.
Do not overcook the pearls. If you are using the small sized pearls, 2 minutes is exactly the amount of time you need. If you use larger pearls, cook for a little longer time, maybe 15-30 seconds more, taste it and adjust time.
Don’t add the tapioca or fruit until right before serving. If you add it in and let it sit, the dish will become bitter. Why? I don’t know….my momma said so!
Use full fat coconut milk. I rarely use lite because its just not worth it. Save your calories on something else, but not the coconut milk! I also get my coconut milk at an Asian market. I’ve tried other brands at regular supermarkets, but they never are as full flavored, thick and rich as the Thai brands. The brand that I consistently reach for is “Chaokoh.”
Tapioca pearls come in different sizes – I like using small size pearls, it goes really nicely with finely diced honeydew or cantelope.
Other variations: Use canned lychee or diced mangoes instead. Top the dessert with shaved coconut. Add ginger to the coconut milk mixture (grate the ginger on a rasp or a traditional Japanese ginger grater, squeeze the pulp and only use the juice.
there is nothing more annoying than getting ginger fibers stuck in your teeth!)