After 3 weeks of savory beef recipes, I realized I need a dessert! While I was trying to come up with an idea, I suddenly craved a Hong Kong dessert that I haven’t had for a long time.
In Hong Kong, there is a chain dessert place called “Hui Lau Shan (許留山)“. Before you walk in, you will quickly find out what their speciality is. They always have tons of dessert pictures on the wall or a mountain of fresh ripe mangoes near the storefront as display. When it is burning hot outside, you just want to walk in and sit down in that freezing-cold store. Then enjoy a refreshing cold mango dessert.
My favorite is always the tapioca pearls with mango (芒果西米露). That is what I made here. Tapioca pearls are food with texture. They do not have much flavors. But after they are cooked, they are little chewy, which is perfect in a dessert soup. The “soup” in this dessert is not really a soup. It is a freshly blended mango juice. Imagine a bowl of sweet mango juice with chewy tapioca pearls and some fresh mango cubes. So refreshing! That is the dessert you will want for spring and summer nights.
For this dessert, I highly recommended using ripe and sweet Ataulfo (champagne) mangoes. They are rich, sweet and soft. They are very similar to the Philippines variety, which is being used in Hong Kong mostly. They are fairly common in the States these days. Whole Foods, Bristol Farms and Ralphs all carry them. But they are seasonal, get them when you see them. They may not be ripe (green and hard) when you buy them. Don’t worry. They will get ripen at counter in a few days. When they are ready, they have a fruity and sweet aroma at their stem ends. They are slightly soft to touch. Once they are ripen, if not consuming immediately, store them in the fridge and enjoy within 4 – 5 days.
Tapioca Pearls with Mango
– 4 Ataulfo (a.k.a. champagne) mangoes
– ¼ cup tapioca pearls
– 1 cup cold drinking water
– 2 – 4 teaspoons sugar
– ½ cup milk (optional)
- For the mangoes, wash them under water and dry them with paper towels. To cut the mangoes into little cubes, hold one mango with one hand and stand it on its end. With a sharp knife in the other hand, cut from the top of the mango, down one side of the pit. Repeat with the other side. Now, you have three pieces (two halves and the pit). Lay one half of mango on the table with the flesh facing up, use a knife to make ½-inch lengthwise and ½-inch crosswise cuts in it, but try not to cut through the peel. Hold that mango in hand, use a spoon to separate the flesh and peel. The mango cubes should be scooped out easily. Repeat with the rest of the mangoes. Put away the flesh of one mango into an airtight container and keep in the fridge to cool for at least 2 hours.
- For the rest of the flesh, transfer to a blender. Add the water. Blend until smooth. Taste and add sugar if needed. You want the juice to be sweeter than normal, because the pearls don’t have flavors. Transfer to an airtight container and keep in the fridge to cool for at least 2 hours.
- In a medium pot over medium-high heat, fill it 2/3 full with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce to medium heat. Add tapioca pearls and cook for 10 minutes. Turn off heat. Cover and sit for about 15 minutes, until the pearls are completely transparent without any white spots. Don’t overcook. Drain and rinse under cold water until cool completely. Drain.
- Prepare 4 cups or bowls.
- In each serving cup, scoop 1/3 cup of pearls and ½ cup mango juice. Mix with a spoon. Top with ¼ cup mango cubes. If desired, top with 2 tablespoons of milk. Repeat with the rest of the cups. Serve immediately.
- Tapioca pearls can be found in Asian supermarkets, Amazon or even at Whole Foods. The one I bought is from Bob’s Red Mill. I got it from Whole Foods.
- There are a few variety of tapioca pearls. Some are bigger and some are smaller. Small ones are usually used in dessert soup.
- Tapioca pearls can be made ahead. After they are done cooking and rinsing, place them in cold water in an airtight container. Store in the fridge for up to 2 days. When ready to use, loosen them with a spoon and drain.
- Milk will make the dessert soup creamier, but it is not necessary.