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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Sago at Gulaman

I don't know about you, but I'm melting in this heat. And when I get that feeling... I make this Philippine treat. Eat with a spoon, or get one of those bubble tea straws. Be careful with the tapioca pearls though - there is a greater chance of choking when consuming through a straw.

Trust me. I know.

Preparing the Sago/Tapioca

Sago pearls and tapioca pearls look very similar. The difference between the two is that sago is made from palm tree starch, and tapioca is made from cassava root. Differences aside, the two can be used interchangeably and you would get pretty much the same results.

If you're in a rush, you can use the pre-cooked sago/tapioca pearls. But really, you should cook it yourself. It's not hard, but you do need just an ounce of patience.

Bring three cups of water to a rolling boil. Add in the sago/tapioca pearls and cook for 15-20 minutes. Turn off the heat, cover, and leave it alone for a while (it's better to do this part the day before). Check on it from time to time to see how it's progressing- the pearls in the picture had been sitting for a few hours. Re-boil, adding more water if necessary. It's done when the pearls are soft and translucent. Drain, reserving ~3 cups of the water for the syrup.

While this is cooking, you can work on the gulaman and arnibal.

Gulaman - The Jell-O Alternative

One package of the Agar sticks should be enough. These can be found at any Asian market and may come in a variety of colors. Yea, you can used the powdered agar, but it's not as fun to watch dissolve. One and a half cups to water for every stick... they come in two so you're looking at three cups of water to bring to a boil. You'll also want to add some sugar to the boiling water, maybe about a cup. When the agar and sugar are completely dissolved, pour into a pan and allow to cool. When it's cooled down enough, you can pop it in the fridge and it'll really firm up. Cut up into cubes.


Arnibal, or sugar syrup, is the base for this refreshment. It requires only three ingredients- water, brown sugar, and vanilla. You can adjust the amount of arnibal according to how much you want to make. I tend to cook on a large scale, but if it's just for 1-2, adjust as necessary. Just keep in mind the sugar to water ratio is 1:1. As for the vanilla, eh... I don't know on the adjustment. Go on taste preference - do you want a pronounced vanilla flavor or not?

For this batch, I caramelized 3 cups of brown sugar. I added the reserved water and cooked until the sugar had completely dissolved. While boiling I added a tablespoon of vanilla and allowed the syrup to cool.


You've got two options when serving- set up a build-your-own area and have people add the ingredients into their glasses; or throw everything into a punch bowl and call it a day. For big parties, the punch bowl is the way to go. Add the sago, diced up gulaman, arnibal, cold water (the amount will vary depending on how sweet you want the drink to be... and remember ice will be added too, so that that into account), and lots of ice. Crushed ice would be best, but work with what you've got.

Try it out and tell me what you think!

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