Things have been pretty busy around here! Practices for the Mendelssohn Club choir have begun, I’ve been to New York City and Staten Island just in this month, and we’ve started to pack for our move to a smaller but less expensive apartment. It’s been 5 years since I’ve lived at the same place for more than a year, so I’ve gotten into the habit of cooking from the pantry and freezer the month or month and a half before we have to move. Tim was also working late most of this past week (and got free breakfast/lunch/dinner), so I had no one to help me eat all the food!

Today, I pulled out some taro I had frozen a while back. Taro is another ingredient that freezes quite well.  So, the next time you see pretty taro in the grocery store, buy it, freeze up what you don’t use, then make this easy Chinese dessert soup. Even though I call it a soup, it’s thicker* than a soup but thinner than tapioca pudding or a custard. You should totally make this dessert because it only requires using one pot! The version I make is not super sweet, and doesn’t skimp on taro or coconut milk taste. I hope you will try it out sometime 🙂 My neighbors had it- the parents loved it, but the 3 and 10 year olds had one spoonful each and decided they didn’t like it at all! Hopefully y’all will enjoy it like the parents did. Oh yeah! I also made this for our pastor’s ordination ceremony in a huge 16 or 20 quart pot, and there was none left at the end. :d

xi mi lu ximilu

Taro-Coconut Tapioca Dessert

Makes 6 cups

20 oz taro, peeled and roughly chopped into 2″ pieces
4 cups water, or more, to taste
Pinch of salt
3 Tbsp small, non-instant tapioca (also called sago)
1 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp sugar, or more, to taste

1) Bring taro, water, and salt to a boil in a pot. Once the water starts to boil, lower the heat so that the water is just simmering. Cover the lid and cook for 15-20 minutes, or until the taro starts to break apart and you can easily poke through it with a chopstick or knife.

2) At this point, you can do one of two things:
a) For the texture inclined (aka the superior way): Use a pastry cutter, potato masher, or large spoon to break up the chunks of taro. Leave some pieces whole, and completely mash up other pieces.
b) For the texture averse: Use a blender to blitz the taro so that it turns soupy. Pour the now-soupy taro back into the pot.

3) Bring the taro mixture back to a very gentle boil (lid off), stirring occasionally if you followed option 2a, and more frequently if you followed option 2b. Once it boils, stir constantly while pouring in the tapioca. Continue to stir for 1 minute, then turn the heat off and cover the pot.

4) Let the mixture sit on its own, and the tapioca will cook by residual heat. Check on it after 15 minutes; the goal is all clear centers. ( If you are impatient, you can also just stir and cook the tapioca on low heat, but you need to stir often to avoid burning or sticking. )

5) Once the tapioca have clear centers, add the coconut milk and sugar and stir. If you wish, slightly warm the soup up so that it is hot. The lesser amount of 1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp sugar will give you sweet but not SWEET soup, so you be the judge of your sugary destiny.

xi mi lu

-*If you prefer a thinner soup, feel free to thin out the final product with hot water. Just note that the taro and coconut flavors will be diluted.
-You can also adapt the red bean soup (hong dou tang) for this recipe to make red bean-coconut tapioca: add tapioca after the red beans have softened up, then add coconut milk and sugar to taste (amounts will vary because of the differences in beans versus taro).
-I find that coconut-milk without preservatives tends to go bad rather quickly, so it’s best to eat this dessert within 2-3 days.

xi mi lu
Ahh…texture! Taro soup plus taro chunks = happy