The first time I ate sago was when my eldest children were born. They were born 4 weeks early (they’re twins, so that’s normal), but they needed to stay in the newborn care centre until they were strong enough to leave. Although we were blessed with relatively healthy babies, it was still a harrowing time for my husband and me.
During the few weeks they were in hospital, I developed an odd ritual. Every day when the doctors did their rounds and the parents were banned from the ward, I would head downstairs to the cafeteria to buy myself a lemon topped sago pudding. The cafeteria was packed, so I had no option but to head back to the parents room to eat my lunch where inevitably someone would switch the television to a midday soap. Now I reaaaallly don’t like daytime soaps, so I would tune out the TV, the chatter around me, and, for the 10 minutes it took to eat my lunch, stop stressing about the two precious bundles next door.
I’d squish the little balls of sago in my mouth and wonder what it looked like in its original form. I’d pace the lemon topping so that every spoonful would have a tiny bit until I had scraped the bottom of the cup. It was my odd little sanctuary of 10 minutes ‘time out’.
A year or so later, I was visiting a friend who had become a new mum and thought I’d treat myself and my children to the pudding I had enjoyed so much. I planned on paying closer attention to the ingredients so I could try and replicate something similar at home. Horror of horrors, it was no longer sold. My reaction was alarming enough that the lovely girl behind the counter had every right to start fumbling for the ‘call security’ button. 😉
From that day, I began trying every sago recipe I could get my hands on. Every recipe I tried had its faults. I either had balls with a tiny nucleus of uncooked sago, or sago that disintegrated into a gooey mess. It was about three years of testing and tweaking before I finally found a recipe that came close to the pudding I used to buy. My poor husband understood my obsession, but he still suffered in silence with every taste test.
I discovered that by soaking the sago for an hour before cooking, the cooking time is dramatically reduced, but the sago cooks through to its core. I truly believe this is the secret to sago.
My recipe has morphed over the years, and it is now my youngest son’s most favourite dessert. We like it with a simple gula melaka syrup, coconut cream and crushed nuts. While it’s something I cook a lot, it’s something I had never converted for the Thermomix. Maybe I was so worn out from tweaking and testing that I didn’t have the energy to mess with the recipe again. When a recent episode of a popular cooking program featured coconut sago, my youngest asked if the Thermomix could manage the dish. I decided to bite the bullet, cross my fingers, and convert my recipe.
It was a great success, and I just shake my head that I put it off for so long. It is so much easier to cook in the Thermomix, because I don’t have to stir it! I like to use martini glasses as they leave more surface area for the gula melaka syrup and they’re easier to eat out of.
Coconut Sago Pudding with Gula Melaka Syrup
Makes 6 puddings
- 130g sago
- 500g water
- 400ml coconut milk or cream *See note below
- 130g sugar (white, raw or rapadura)
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla paste (you could use pandan essence for a different flavour)
* I use a tin of coconut cream but let it sit for a few hours (don’t shake!) so I can scrape the thick cream from the top. I use this to top the puddings as a bit of an indulgence. Make sure you top the tin up with water to make up the fluid.
- 100g palm sugar or brown sugar
- 75g water
- Toasted crushed nuts
Soak sago in 500g water for one hour.
Drain the sago water into the Thermomix bowl. Put the sago aside for the moment.
Add coconut milk, sugar and vanilla paste to the bowl. Cook for 5 minutes/varoma/sp.1.
Add reserved sago to the bowl and cook for 10 minutes/90c/rev/speed soft.
Pour into 6 dishes.
Add palm or brown sugar and water to the cleaned Thermomix bowl. Cook 5 minutes/100c/sp 1, (no MC) or until syrup has thickened.
Pour syrup over the top of sago puddings and add a dollop of reserved cream if you feel indulgent. Top with crushed toasted nuts.
This is lovely warm, but just as nice cold the next day. Just don’t add the syrup and the coconut cream until just before serving.