Coconut Sago with Mango

Refreshing and light, creamy and sweet, Coconut Sago with Mango is your summer dream come true.

Recently, my friend Michelle of Sift and Simmer posted a picture of Mango Sai Mai Lo on her IG feed. Unfamiliar with this Asian dessert, I did a quick google search. Otherwise known as Sago, I knew I had to make it!

In places all over the world, summertime means the same thing: swelteringly-hot, sticky masses of people desperately trying to stay cool. In Asia, specifically, summer weather can be brutally hot and humid.

two cups of coconut sago with mango topping on marble cutting board

Enter Coconut Sago with Mango, an Asian-inspired dessert that’s perfect for those intensely hot summer days. Light and refreshing. Loaded with fresh fruit. Not too sweet and not too heavy.

This is not the traditional Sago with fruit puree and/or sweetened, condensed milk. My version is less soupy with a firmer, pudding-like consistency. But it’s refreshing, all the same!

close up of coconut sago in glass cup with mango topping

Wait, you’ve never made dessert with tapioca pearls? You’ve never heard of Sago? Well, until recently, neither had I.

Tapioca Pearls are plant-based, starchy little balls made from cassava roots. They swell when cooked and have a slightly chewy, gelatinous consistency not that different from chia seeds. That makes Coconut Sago with Mango dairy-free, gluten-free, and naturally vegan.

How to Make Coconut Sago with Mango

The hardest part of this recipe is dealing with the Tapioca Pearls, which contain quite a bit of starch. When cooked incorrectly, Tapioca can become glue-y with the most unappealing texture.

While recipe developing, I tried cooking the pearls several different ways. The goal was to find the easiest method that produced the most pleasing texture. The following method was my favorite:

Bring (at least) 8 cups of water to a boil in a large stock pot. Add Tapioca Pearls and simmer for 12-15 minutes, stirring constantly.

Drain in a fine-mesh sieve. Stir with a wooden spoon so that the excess liquid is drained. Rinse with cold water, stirring constantly, until pearls are cool to the touch.

Add coconut milk and sugar to a large (at least 4-cup) measuring cup. Mix until sugar is dissolved. Transfer drained, rinsed, cool tapioca pearls to the liquid and mix well. It will look soupy. That’s ok.

Now, at this point, you can serve the Coconut Sago immediately. It will be more of the traditional, soupy Sago that’s served in restaurants.

Or, you can cover and store in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours. The resulting Sago will be more pudding-like in consistency. The tapioca pearls will absorb the liquid and swell. Note: I don’t recommend soaking longer than 3 hours!!

Either way, when ready to serve, simply add chopped, fresh mango on top. Creamy coconut milk. Ripe, super-sweet mangoes. And all those chewy tapioca pearls. Enjoy!

Coconut Sago with Mango

Refreshing and light, creamy and sweet, Coconut Sago with Mango is your summer dream come true.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Chilling Time2 hrs
Total Time2 hrs 20 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Asian
Keyword: Coconut, Mango, Sago
Servings: 4
Author: The Subversive Table

Ingredients

Cooking Tapioca

  • 1 cup tapioca pearls (small or fine)
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 400 ml/ 13.5 oz can coconut milk (canned) full fat, not from a box
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 ripe mangoes peeled and diced into 1-inch chunks

Instructions

  • Bring at least 8 cups of water to boil in large stock pot. Add tapioca pearls to the boiling water. Lower heat and simmer for 12-15 minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon so that it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pot. The pearls should be mostly translucent with little flecks of white here and there.
    stainless steel stock pot filled with boiling tapioca pearls
  • Drain tapioca pearls into a fine mesh strainer. Using a spoon, stir the tapioca pearls so that the excess liquid is drained. Rinse with cold water, stirring constantly, until the tapioca pearls are cool to the touch. Drain as much excess liquid as possible.
    drained and rinsed tapioca pearls in fine mesh sieve
  • Add coconut milk and sugar to a large (at least 4-cup) measuring cup. Mix until sugar is dissolved. Transfer drained, rinsed, cool tapioca pearls to the liquid and mix well. It will look soupy. That's ok.
    Now, at this point, you can serve the Coconut Sago immediately. It will be more of the traditional, soupy Sago that's served in restaurants.
    Or, you can cover and store in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours. The resulting Sago will be more pudding-like in consistency as the tapioca pearls will absorb the liquid and swell. Note: I don't recommend soaking longer than 2-3 hours!!
    measuring cup filled with coconut sago
  • Pour Coconut Sago into individual cups with a generous spoonful (or two) of the fresh mango. Serve with the additional mangoes so that guests can help themselves at the table.
    three cups of coconut sago with mango on cutting board with bowl of mangoes in front

Notes

* I DO NOT recommend soaking for longer than 2-3 hours!  The resulting sago will be soggy and unappealing.
*If you would like to serve the Coconut Sago in the traditional soupy format, you can make this in advance.  Simply prep everything beforehand:  Cook the tapioca pearls, make the coconut milk mixture, dice the mango.  Then, store each item separately in the fridge.  When it’s time to serve, rinse the tapioca pearls in a fine mesh sleeve under hot water until loosened.  Pour drained, rinsed tapioca pearls into a large measuring cup (at least 4 cups).  Add the coconut milk mixture, give it a stir, and pour into individual cups.  Top with diced mango and enjoy immediately!

More (light + refreshing!) Dessert Inspiration:

Coffee Jello
Coconut Panna Cotta with Ginger Syrup
Not-too-sweet Meyer Lemon Bars
Or check out the Dessert Archives!
All Recipes, Asian Inspired, Dessert, Popular Recipes, Potluck
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Jo Nip
Jo Nip
1 year ago

Thanks for sharing this easy recipe Lis! We tried it the other night and we really liked how the coconut soup doesn’t require cooking – using white sugar makes it dissolve easily into the coconut milk = one less pot to use. We doubled the recipe and it wasn’t too sweet; we did one modification of using cooked taro chunks instead of mango and it still turned out great! We ended up serving it chilled, so it def had a more pudding-like consistency, but I also had it with evaporated milk cus I like mine more soupy. Great and easy recipe! Thanks!

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