My coconut mango sago pudding makes the perfect summer dessert with its tropical and refreshing flavors.
With peak mango season I wanted to share one of our favorite mango desserts, coconut mango sago pudding. I made this sago pudding for a charity dinner in Vancouver with the lovely ladies from Eikcam and Anh and Chi in 2018 to raise money for women who experienced domestic violence. The highlights of the night were raising over $2000 for the charity and these sago puddings. The sago pudding was a huge hit and guests kept on asking for the recipe. Unfortunately I didn’t have a chance to write it up until now. Rich and creamy sago pudding layered with sweet mango and tart passion fruit makes a refreshing and light summer dessert.
- Sago: sago pearls (aka tapioca pearls) are made from cassava starch and have a chewy texture after cooking. They are commonly found in the Asian grocery stores and online.
- Coconut cream: look for coconut cream, not coconut milk. The flavor you get from coconut cream is much richer. My favorite brands are Savoy and Aroy-d.
- Palm sugar: is very popular in Southeast Asian cooking. It contains less glucose and has a lower glycemic index compared to regular sugar. If you can’t find palm sugar, you can also substitute with coconut sugar, rock sugar, or light brown sugar.
- Makrut lime leaves: they are one of the most aromatic herbs and a wonderful addition to many soups, curries, and desserts. We grow our own but you can find them in the fresh herb section at many Asian grocery stores. Look for fresh makrut lime leaves that are dark green, shiny, and without any browning or yellowing.
- Mango: my favorite mangos are champagne or Ataulfo mangoes. These sun-kissed Champagne mangoes have creamy texture, floral fragrance, and a lot sweeter than other varieties. For the sago pudding, I like to use a combination of mango puree and mango slices. You can skip them altogether and use mango cubes.
Tips for Cooking Sago Pearls (Tapioca Pearls)
Contrary to popular beliefs, you do not need to soak sago pearls before cooking. I have tried soaking them overnight, for 6 hours, and 1 hour. The sago pears with the best texture were cooked without pre-soaking. Because sago pearls are made from starch, the starch starts to dissolve after soaking in water and the pearls lose their shape as soon as they hit the boiling water. The pre-soaked sago pearls become completely mushy.
Use plenty of water to cook sago pearls. I use 4 cups of water per ½ cup of sago pearls. Add the sago pearls to the water only after it reaches the boiling point. Turn the heat down to medium-low. Stir frequently to prevent them from sticking to the bottom and cook for 10-12 minutes until sago pearls become almost translucent (there should be a small white dot in the center of each pearl). Drain off the hot water and strain them under cold water to remove excess starch before adding them to the coconut sauce.
How to Make Coconut Sauce
I bruised the makrut lime leaves to release its natural oil before adding them to a pot of coconut cream, palm sugar, and a touch of salt and letting everything simmer until the sugar is dissolved. Then I removed the pot from heat and let the mixture steep and cool down completely before using it for the sago pearls. You can make the coconut sauce a day ahead and keep it in the fridge until ready to use.
How to Serve Sago Pudding
Once the sago pearls are cooked, they go into a coconut sauce infused with makrut lime leaves. The mixture is refrigerated for two hours for the flavor to develop. When you are ready to serve, add mango puree to the bottom of a cup, top it with the sago pudding, garnish with mango slices and passion fruit pulp. If you don’t care about presentation, skip the mango puree and slices. Dice up some mango and add them to a bowl with sago pudding.
This delightful coconut mango sago pudding has all the tropical flavors that I love. In every bite you get creamy sago pearls in a rich coconut sauce, sweet mango, and tart passion fruit. Once in a while I take it to the next level by adding a scoop of mango or coconut ice cream. My boys go crazy for these sago puddings regardless of the ice cream. It makes a refreshing dessert for those scorching summer days when you need something sweet to cool down.
For more Asian dessert inspiration, check these recipes: mango sticky rice, Vietnamese glutinous rice balls with ginger syrup, matcha creme brulee with raspberries, Vietnamese coffee ice cream, toasted black sesame ice cream.
Coconut Mango Sago (Tapioca )Pudding
- 1 can coconut cream (400 mL), brand Savoy or Aroy-d
- 2 ounces palm sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 5 makrut lime leaves, bruised with the back of a knife
- ½ cup sago pearls (tapioca pearls)
- 4 cups water
- 1 ½ cups mango puree
- 2 ripe Champagne or Ataúlfo mangoes, cut into slices or diced
- ¼ cup passion fruit pulp
- mint sprigs for garnish (optional)
- To make the coconut sauce, in a small sauce pan, combine the coconut cream, palm sugar, bruised makrut lime leaves, and salt.
- Set the pot over medium heat and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, stir occasionally, and let everything cook until the sugar has dissolved and cream slightly thickened, about 12 minutes. Let it cool to room temperature.
- In large sauce pan, bring water to the boil over high heat, then reduce to medium low and cook, stirring, for 10-12 minutes until sago is almost translucent (there should be a small white dot in the center of each pearl). Remove from heat. Drain and run under cold water to remove excess starch.
- Remove and discard the lime leaves from coconut sauce. In a large lidded container, combine drained sago pearls and coconut sauce. Refrigerate for 2 hours for the flavor to develop.
- When ready to serve, spoon ¼ cup of mango puree into the glass. Add about half a cup of sago pearls. Top with mango slices and a drizzle of passion fruit pulp. Garnish with mint leaves and serve immediately.