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.
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!
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 10-12 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 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 2 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
- 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
- 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 10-12 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.
- Drain tapioca pearls into a LARGE 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.
- 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 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 hours!!
- 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.