Sunday, February 16, 2014

Lemon Sago Pudding or Lemon Tapioca Pearl Pudding

Lemon sago is an old fashioned dessert, which Mum often cooked for us as kids, however back then I didn't appreciate it as much as I do now. Very strange!

I go shopping for sago at the supermarket, and with some help I eventually find it, however confusingly it is packaged by "LION" , based in Fremantle by the way, as Tapioca Pearls (Sago). This sounds more like something I should be wearing, or having in a Lychee drink, however I am assured it is sago by the staff member. Not convinced, I check Google, and discover that Tapioca and Sago are distinctly different in their botanical origin. Sago comes from the middle part of the trunk of the sago palm, and tapioca comes from the tuber of cassava or manioc which grows in tropical weather. I read that many misleading packages of dried sago tend to claim that sago and tapioca come from the fruit of a sago palm.

So what have I just bought, sago or tapioca. Or is "LION" using the term "Tapioca pearls" purely for marketing purposes because of its more popular connotations, with the Asian market and the younger generation. Are the contents of this packet really sago? I don't think so. "LION" states on the packet that Tapioca and Sago are both starch extracts from plants, Tapioca from the tuber of the cassava plant and Sago from the pith of Sago palm stems. "Tapioca and Sago are traditionally used in both sweet and savoury dishes throughout the world and can often be used interchangeably in recipes".

When I cook the pudding, Mr. HRK who certainly ate much more lemon sago as a child than I did, so is somewhat of an expert says it is the same as he ate at home, which presumably was the authentic sago. Were Tapioca Pearls around back then? Whilst I suspect I have just cooked Lemon Tapioca Pearl pudding, which sounds very nice, and tastes delicious, I am now searching for the real sago to test the difference. The health food shop should be able to throw some more light on the subject.

Here's the recipe anyway:-


1/2 cup sago (100 gr.)
3/4 cup Castor Sugar
grated rind of 3 lemons
3 cups of water
1/2 cup of lemon juice
1 tablespoon of golden syrup

Let's Cook:
  1. Wash sago; soak for 2 hours in 300ml of water.  (Don't omit this step, or you will be stirring the mixture for what seems like hours.)
  2. Rinse sago.
  3. Combine sago, sugar, lemon rind, and water in a saucepan.
  4. Bring to a gentle simmer. Stir regularly over a low to medium heat for 20 mins. or until sago is translucent, soft and thick.
  5. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice and golden syrup and cool for 30 minutes.
  6. Serve warm with custard, or whipped cream
This is also nice served in dessert glasses for a special occasion.

So please tell me dear reader, can you tell me if sago and tapioca are interchangeable? Should it be marketed as if it is the same thing? Does it really matter?

Thanks for reading.


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