Mango Coconut Tapioca Pudding

By / Food / April 26th, 2023 / 3

Excerpted from Sabai by Pailin Chongchitnant. Copyright © 2023 Pailin Chongchitnant. Photographs by Janis Nicolay. Published by Appetite by Random House®, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

By Pailin Chongchitnant

I wanted to create a mango-coconut dessert that’s faster to make than mango and sticky rice. One day, after seeing the tapioca-mango dessert cups that are always sold at my local Chinese supermarket, I got this idea. Tiny tapioca pearls are folded into a silky coconut cream and topped with fresh, juicy mango. It’s the same flavor combination as mango and sticky rice, yet a vastly different eating experience. Tapioca pearls lose their soft chewy texture after many hours in the fridge, so this isn’t something you want to make too far ahead, but they’re so quick that you can prep the coconut cream in advance and cook the pearls while people are digesting dinner!


COOKING TIME: 30 minutes


  • 1 cup (250 ml) coconut milk
  • 1 pandan leaf, tied into a knot (optional; see sidebar, p. 213 and see note below )
  • 5 to 7 tablespoons (62 to 75 g) finely chopped palm or granulated sugar (see note)
  • ¼ teaspoon (1 ml) table salt
  • 2 tablespoons (15 g) rice flour
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) water
  • ½ cup (85 g) small tapioca pearls (see note)
  • ½ cup (10 g) julienned young coconut meat, fresh or canned
  • 2 to 3 sweet ripe mangoes, cut in ½-inch (1.2 cm) cubes


Bring at least 6 cups (1.5 L) water to a full boil over high heat to cook the tapioca pearls. Make the coconut cream by placing the coconut milk and pandan leaf in a small pot and bringing the milk to a boil over medium heat. Add the sugar and salt; stir until dissolved.

Dissolve the rice flour in the water, then pour it into the coconut milk while you stir with a rubber spatula. Keep stirring constantly until the coconut milk returns to a boil and the mixture has thickened. Remove the coconut cream from the heat, discard the pandan leaf, and let cool.

Sprinkle the tapioca pearls into the boiling water and stir until the water returns to a boil. Then stop stirring and let them boil for 12 to 13 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare a small bowl of cold water to check doneness.

Check the doneness of the pearlsby putting a small amount into the cold water. The pearls are done when any white centers remaining in the pearls look no larger than a tiny dot.

Drain the pearls through a metal fine-mesh sieve and run cold water through them until completely cool. Shake off excess water and transfer to a mixing bowl. If you’re not ready to serve, you can leave them at room temperature, covered, for up to 4 hours. For the best texture, it’s better to not refrigerate them.

Notes: If not using pandan leaf, use palm sugar instead of granulated sugar for added flavor.

If the mango is very sweet, use less sugar, and vice versa. Also, if you’re serving right after assembly, useless sugar, as the sugar will not have had time to absorb into the pearls and the dish will taste sweeter than if it had.

Make sure you use the tiny tapioca pearls that are no larger than 1/16 inch (2mm) in diameter; they’re available in white or a mix of pink, green, and white.

To assemble,stir the coconut cream (it can be warm, room tempera- ture, or cold) and the young coconut meat into the pearls, mixing well. You can taste the pudding with a piece of mango and add more sugar and/or salt as needed, depending on the sweetness and tartness of the mangoes.

Spoon into a small serving bowl and top with a generous helping of mango pieces. Serve within 30 minutes of mixing. The tapioca pearls will continue to absorb moisture from the cream as they sit, so the longer they sit, the less soft and creamy the texture will be. If you have any leftovers, you can store them in the fridge, but the texture will not be as good the next day.

Do-ahead: You can make the coconut cream in advance and either keep it at room temperature for up to 8 hours or refrigerate it for up to 3 days.

Tapioca pearls can be cooked up to 4 hours in advance and left at room temperature.

PAILIN CHONGCHITNANT was born and raised in Thailand. After attending the University of British Columbia, she made her way to Le Cordon Bleu culinary school in San Francisco, and began cooking for both Western and Thai restaurants. She is the creator and host of Hot Thai Kitchen, a popular cooking show on YouTube, which takes an educational approach to Thai cuisine. Visit her at


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