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Monday, March 06, 2006

Sago pudding recipe


When I think of sago pudding, I think of that thick baked custardy dessert from yum cha. The pudding is baked so it forms a skin on top which caramelises to the colour of rich molasses. Breaking through the skin with your eager spoon reveals a dense but creamy custard with hints of coconut milk and packed tight with luminescent sago pearls.

We searched high and low all over Google for this sago recipe but it gave Malaysian versions, Filipino variants and anything else but the baked yum cha version we were after. Maybe we were using the wrong keywords, but the answer was staring at us in the face. Well it was discovered within a rarely used cookbook sitting forlorn on the kitchen shelf.

Sago pudding
sago puddingfrom Taste of the Orient

2 cups sago
2 cups sugar
125g butter
1 cup milk
2 cups coconut milk
1 cup cornflour (cornstarch)
1/2 cup custard powder
4 eggs

Soak sago well in water for a few hours. Pour sago into a pan of boiling water and simmer until transparent. Wash under running tap. Drain and set aside.
Put 1 litre water and sugar in a saucepan. Slowly bring to boil and add butter, milk and sago, stirring until well blended.
Mix coconut milk with cornflour and custard powder. Gradually stir into boiling sugar mixture. Continue stirring until thickened. Remove from heat.
Add well-beaten eggs and stir until smooth. Pour into heatproof container and place on middle shelf of preheated oven 230C.
Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown.
Note: Coconut milk can be replaced by 1/2 water and 1/2 milk.
Serves 10-15.

Submitted for the Weekend Cookbook Challenge #3: Food in Shades of Orange.
24 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Anonymous on 3/06/2006 10:36:00 pm


  • At 3/07/2006 1:35 am, Blogger Culinary Hag said…

    OH we lurve sago pudding! Simple but decadent! Will have to try this recipe out. Thanks

  • At 3/07/2006 1:25 pm, Blogger Julia said…

    This is one of my favourite ever things. The problem is it's quite filling and since I pig out at yum cha it's a rare thing to order (somehow, there's always room for mango pancakes...).

    Thank you for posting this recipe, I will definitely try it!

  • At 3/07/2006 1:25 pm, Blogger Min Ai said…

    being malaysian, i can't bring myself to eat it in any other way than the way i have been brought up with. lots of gula melaka and coconut milk! even better when it's warm.. mmm..

  • At 3/07/2006 7:51 pm, Blogger FooDcrazEE said…

    helen, being malaysian....i dont really fancy anything sweet as such, i dont go much for dessert...this version though...caught me....never tasted it before baked...waiting for my oven..will see how it goes then

  • At 7/23/2006 3:15 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    omg thanks for the recipe..I finally found out the they are called "sago" lol

    I will make them this weekend for sure!

  • At 1/13/2007 8:54 am, Blogger Vee said…

    Thank you, thank you, thank you so much for posting this recipe! I too have been Googling all over and finding all other S E Asian versions but not this one. Who knew it was so hard to come by. Now I can make it in time for Chinese New Year! We live in a very homogeneously white part of middle America so it is 40 miles to the closest dim sum restaurant! Bon appetit!

  • At 5/02/2007 12:51 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hi Helen,

    I have been trying to make sago pudding for months now and I just can't seem to find the 'right' sago (abt 3mm diameter). I bought some from my local chinese shop and I think the beads were too small - it all disintegrated when I boiled it. Any suggestions on where to get good sago?

  • At 5/21/2007 10:13 pm, Blogger ioyces said…

    hi Helen!

    this looks great!! I've never heard of it before despite singaporean.. :P reminds me of egg tarts though!!
    will try it soon! thanks for sharing the recipe!!!


  • At 5/22/2007 10:39 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    1 5/6 cup of sago - this is a strange measurement - is this correct ?

  • At 5/31/2007 9:00 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Anon - Your local Asian shop would be your best bet. Perhaps the sago was overcooked? Maybe you could tell the shop keeper you want to make sago pudding and they could give some advice?

    Hi ioyces - This is one of our favourites whenever we go to yum cha. Hope you try it soon. It's delicious!

    Hi Anon - Yes that is correct. It is a strange measurement I agree.

  • At 7/05/2007 12:51 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Thank you so much. mum and dad couldn't find a recipe any where, so i got "conscripted" to find it on the net. Long story short: its very nearly 1 and i start work in 6 hrs then i finally find this page so thanks again.

  • At 9/09/2007 5:16 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Just before baking, I sandwich in some lotus seed paste (canned, "Golden Rooster" brand from China) in between layers of sago. I also sprinkle a bit of caster sugar on top before baking, so to get a caramelised effect.

  • At 9/10/2007 6:12 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Anon - Glad to be of service. Hope your parents liked the recipe :)

    Hi Louie - I've noticed that a lot of restaurants tend to have spoonfuls of either lotus paste, red bean paste or peanut paste hidden within. I like the extra sugar on top for caramelisation idea too :)

  • At 6/15/2008 11:03 am, Blogger Laura said…

    The strange measurement might account for the fact that the recipe was probably converted from metric to English measurement. Using 2 full cups of sago would work fine.

  • At 6/15/2008 8:21 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Laura - You're probably right. In fact, I'll change the recipe on your advice :)

  • At 10/26/2008 5:26 am, Blogger Unknown said…

    Sago is a misnomer here. Sago comes from the sago palm and is mostly sold in brown dried cakes. The tapioca pearls (large or small) are made from the cassava root. Try to look for it under tapioca pearls if the store does not have the sago pearls. Hope this helps. Max

  • At 10/27/2008 1:58 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi maxcmel - Thanks for the clarification. It is strange how everyone always calls it sago pudding even though, as you say, they are actually tapioca pearls.

  • At 11/06/2009 10:56 pm, Blogger Von said…

    I made these a while ago- I had the same problem finding a recipe online (until I found yours...=]). It tasted delicious! Thanks for the awesome recipe!

  • At 11/06/2009 11:11 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Von - Glad the recipe worked out for you. This sago recipe is actually one of my highest viewed pages. Given its tastiness and popularity, it's odd that there are more recipes aren't out there. I must make this again soon :)

  • At 8/30/2010 1:56 pm, Blogger Jennifer Ng said…

    Thanks so much for posting this recipe! I too have been trying to find this 'yum cha' version .. seeing as how it's my Dad's favorite dessert.

    Do you by any chance know if it would work with Splenda? My dad is diabetic .. so I always try to substitute sugar for Splenda.

    Any ideas would be appreciated.

  • At 8/30/2010 10:49 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Jennifer - I have relatives who are diabetic as well, so I do often adapt recipes to use Splenda. From what I understand, Splenda should always be added last, just before cooking. I tend to only replace half the sugar in my recipes with Splenda as I find you will be missing the caramelised flavour that cane sugar brings. Having said that, I haven't tried using Splenda with this recipe. Good luck and hope it works!

  • At 5/11/2011 9:43 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Thank you! Pretty good recipe - sugar amt can be adjusted accordingly but its nicer when its sweeter

  • At 7/16/2011 9:58 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I was thrilled to find this recipe as we love it at Yum Cha as well, and I had no luck finding the recipe. Just tried your recipe this evening with great success. I was worried that the cup of cornflour would be too much but it was fine. I probably wouldn't soak the sago for more than 10-15 minutes next time as it was starting to disintegrate a bit. Thanks for posting this.

  • At 5/26/2012 10:46 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Like every one else I have been after this elusive recipe since having the taste from childhood!
    Going make it tonight for my 'mother' daughters to pass on. Many thanks.


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