Thursday, May 24, 2007

Rhubarb and Sago

With the change in weather some kind of internal switch as been flicked and I find myself noticing rhubarb everywhere - and when they look as good as this specimen they are impossible to resist.


My initial intention was to make a dish of stewed rhubarb but as nice as that was, it seemed a little humdrum. I wanted something creamy to play against the slight tartness of the rhubarb and while a rice pudding would be an excellent match, it is a little time consuming.

My solution came in the form of this almost forgotten ingredient - sago or seed tapioca


When cooked, these tiny pearl grains expand, releasing their starch and becoming wonderfully translucent. To further increase their appeal, rather than cooking them in milk or water, I've cooked them in a mix of coconut cream and water.

To serve, simply alternate layers of sago and rhubarb.


Stewed Rhubarb with Coconut Sago

Stewed Rhubarb
500 grams rhubarb
1 cup caster sugar
½ cup water

Wash and trim the rhubarb - for larger stalks of rhubarb you'll need to remove any of the tough stringy strands. Slice the stalks at the diagonal in about 2-3cm/1 inch pieces.

Place the rhubarb, sugar and water into a medium sized saucepan and cook over a medium heat, stirring often, until the rhubarb has broken down and is soft and pulpy.

Coconut Sago
½ cup sago (seed tapioca)
1 cup coconut cream
1½ cups water
½ cup sugar

Place the sago, coconut cream, water and sugar into a small saucepan and cook over a medium heat. Be careful not to let the mixture boil and make sure you stir this often so the sago cooks evenly.

The sago will swell and the mixture will become quiet sticky as the starch is released. Once the sago has become translucent, it will be cooked and remove it from the heat.


This can be served warm or cold - you will notice as the sago cools that it will become quite thick. If using the sago cold, stir it well to slacken the mixture before spooning it into your serving dishes.

The hardest part of this dish is not eating it all yourself!

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  1. Hi Haalo, I know what you mean. I've been seeing rhubarb everywhere too and have been thinking about making something with it. Thanks for the reminder! :)

  2. Haalo, sago is very common here. It's served with a sort of syrup made of red wine. Simple yet delicious.

    I'm sure your creation is even better!

  3. Such an interesting combination! I love rhubarb, but never tried it with sago before - looks beautifully pink!

  4. Not quite sure where to find sago, but I'm definitely going to look for it! That is beautiful!

  5. Haalo, sago desserts are common where I grew up (Singapore) and rhubarb is a new discovery for me, so this is a very interesting combination. Thanks for sharing.

  6. I should try tappioca some day.Is it like rice or even better? I wonder. Once again Haalo, I might not be very original but your dessert is MMMMMnnnn.

  7. Hey there,
    I tried your recipe,it was easy and your blog.Cheers!

  8. Thanks Ilingc - they are looking so wonderful it's a shame not to do something with them.

    Mmmm Patricia, I have a spoon ready for your sago, sounds delish!

    Thanks Pille - rhubarb goes so well with something creamy and this was a really enjoyable match

    Thanks Christianne - I found it in a normal supermarket but I think asian stores should have it. Hope you find it!

    Thanks Nora - coconut and sago are made for each other.

    Thanks Rose - cooked sago is sort of like rice pudding, it's creamy and soft but a little more gelatinous in texture.

    Thanks Sugarandsalts - glad you enjoyed the dish!

  9. It looks fabulous, that's for certain. I'm in the wrong hemisphere for rhubarb right now, but I'm going to save this recipe, that's for sure. Tell me, though: does your rhubarb end up providing the sweetness, with the sago providing a creaminess, or do you leave the rhubarb to be tart, to contrast with the sweetness of sago?


  10. Thanks Davimack - sago doesn't have any flavour, it's just textural. When I started cooking the sago I hadn't added any sugar but as it cooked, I tasted it and it was a little too bland and needed some sugar to counter the slight tartness of the Rhubarb. So in this recipe the sago is creamy with enough sweetness to match the Rhubarb while still allowing the Rhubarb to maintain it's character. It's always important to taste as you cook, thinner rhubarb will need less sugar than thick rhubarb. I hope that explains it a little better.

  11. Hi, Haalo,
    Where have you seen Rhubarb in Singapore? I am dying to make strawberry rhubarb pie!


  12. No idea where to find it in Singapore - I'm in Australia. You should probably ask one of the singaporean food bloggers like Lady Iron Chef


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