Sago Pudding Gula Melaka

4/09/2019 05:13:00 PM

Sago pudding gula melaka. A classic Malaysian dessert of sago pearls, topped with pandan-scented palm sugar syrup and rich coconut cream. It's so easy to make and tastes so wonderful!

Sago Gula Melaka

I've eaten a lot of gula melaka growing up, but it never struck me as something to make at home. It's a common dessert to bring to potlucks (because it's easy, needs to be made in advance, and travels well), so I'd eaten it at those types of gatherings, and my parents often ordered it at different cafes when we were in Malaysia on holidays. In slightly more recent times, Sandra's enjoyed sago puddings with my family and at Malaysian restaurants here in Australia, and also when her and I have travelled to Malaysia together.

In even more recent times (that is, in the last couple of months), Sandra's been craving it. Well, I thought I'd better learn how to make it! I've made it a couple of times this year, and it's so easy and so good! I can't believe I've waited so long.

Let's look at the ingredients. For Aussies, most of these can easily be purchased at an Asian grocer.

Sago, coconut cream, pandan, palm sugar

Coconut cream. Coconut milk is traditional, but I've made this with both coconut milk and coconut cream, but much prefer the richness of coconut cream. Very indulgent!

Pandan leaves. The taste of south east Asia! The fragrance of pandan immediately transports me back to Malaysia. I keep pandan leaves in the freezer - you buy them in small bunches at the Asian grocer, and I only ever need to use one or two leaves at a time.

Gula melaka. AKA palm sugar! I'm pretty sure this is the key part of the dessert - because in Malaysia you can just refer to the whole dessert as Gula Melaka. Here's an example my dad said recently: "The gula melaka at the E&O Hotel Cafe in Penang is very good, and their lunch buffet has a senior citizen discount!" I used jaggery this time, because I have a big container of it in the pantry, gifted to Sandra and I by a Sri Lankan coworker. I think gula melaka and jaggery are technically different, but they're both a type of palm sugar and have a wonderful caramel flavour.

Sago pearls. There are different types of sago available - the one I use for sago pudding is made from the pith of a sago palm, but confusingly, you can also buy "sago" pearls made from tapioca that look EXACTLY THE SAME. I know they're similar, but I haven't cooked with the tapioca version, so can't give instructions on those. But for sago sago, you boil them until the little pearls turn clear! The key thing is to make sure the water is at a rolling boil before adding the sago, otherwise the whole thing will just solidify into a big gluey lump that's impossible to clean. (I learned this from experience).

Anyhoo, here's what they properly cooked sago pearls look like!

Cooked sago

From here you divide the pearls into little containers, and refrigerate overnight. The little pearls stick together and form a pudding. Sago is deceptively filling, so you only need a small amount - a teacup, small ramekin or small bowl is about the right size. I like doing them in individual servings, but you could also make a big batch and set it in a jelly mould or cake tin, and cut individual slices like a cake.

So, with the sago prepared you can do the coconut and the gula melaka. For the coconut cream (or milk), you just heat it up in a pot with a pinch of salt. For the gula melaka, you chop it up and melt it with some water and the pandan leaves. Both the coconut and the gula melaka can be made in advance and can be served hot or cold.

Sago puddings

That's it! Place all the elements out and let people go to town!

Sago puddings

Sago itself is quite bland. Basically what we've got here is a chewy pudding vehicle for the coconut cream and the palm sugar.

Coconut cream

Heck yes!

Sago Gula Melaka

I hope you enjoy these!

Sago Pudding Gula Melaka
Sarah's version of a classic Malaysian recipe

1/4 cup sago pearls (made of sago flour, not tapioca)
200 millilitres coconut milk or cream
Pinch of salt
70 grams palm sugar, roughly chopped
1 pandan leaf

Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil over a high heat. Once boiling, add the sago pearls and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15-20 minutes, or until the pearls are translucent. Drain in a sieve and rinse under cold water.
Line four containers with clingfilm (a small bowl, ramekin or teacup would be about right) and divide the sago between the containers. Press down gently, cover, and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.
Heat the coconut milk or cream with a pinch of salt over a low heat until it comes to a simmer. Remove from the heat and set aside. (You can serve the coconut milk hot or cold).
In a separate saucepan, melt the palm sugar with 2 tablespoons of water. Add the pandan leaf and bring to a simmer. Turn off the heat and set aside. Allow to cool, then remove the pandan leaf and discard. (You can serve the sugar syrup hot or cool).
All three elements can be prepared in advance and stored in the fridge. If the sugar syrup solidifies or gets too thick, simply reheat it on the stove.
To serve, unmould the puddings and place on a shallow plate. Place the coconut milk and the sugar syrup in two small jugs and allow people to add as much as they like.
Makes 4 servings

Have you made this recipe? Leave a comment below! Tag me on Instagram @sarahcooksblog and hashtag #sarahcooksblog

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  1. Anonymous1:30 PM

    This whole thing made my mouth water. Gush.

  2. I love anything sago but find it a bit of a pain to cook. Sometimes I sub it with chia seeds steeped in coconut milk if I am feeling super lazy.

    1. That’s a great idea! And chia seeds would have more nutrition too!

      It’s funny, the first time I made my dad a chia pudding he looked at it suspiciously and tried a little spoon, then his face lit up and he says “oh! It’s just like sago!” and then ate his whole bowl :)

  3. Anonymous8:06 PM

    Hello.. I live in Ballarat, not exactly a great place to try and find anything exotic..I can't even get galangal here . Is there an alternative to the palm leaves, or will it taste terrible if I omit them?

    1. Hey hey, I'm assuming you're referring to the pandan leaf? It will be ok to leave it out - it will still taste nice but just not quite as aromatic.



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