We eat a lot of dessert soups in Thailand, hot and cold, but this super easy recipe has got to be my favourite cold one. It's a magical combination of aromas: the sweet ripe melons (or try mango!), coconut water, coconut milk and pandan leaves. I love the way the tapioca pearls slip and slide in your mouth, which makes it fun to eat. Refreshing, light, and mildly sweet, this is the perfect dessert for the summer or after any big meal. And it's gluten-free!
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Tapioca Melon Dessert Soup สาคูแคนตาลูป
- ⅓ cup small tapioca pearls
- ¾ cup coconut water
- ⅓ cup coconut milk
- ⅓ cup whole milk, see note 1
- 3 Tbsp sugar, or to taste (see note 2)
- 5 inches pandan leaf, optional
- Half a sweet melon such as cantaloupe, honey dew, or try mangoes!
- To make this vegan, substitute the milk with a combination of half coconut milk and half coconut water.
- The amount of sugar you need will depend on the sweetness of your coconut water the melons, and also your preference, so taste and adjust accordingly.
- Do-ahead tips: You can make the components ahead of time, but don't combine them until close to serving time, no more than 1 hour ahead; once the tapioca pearls are in the broth it will continue to absorb the liquid and swell up. The cooked tapioca pearls will last in the fridge for 2-3 days, but the texture is best (most bouncy and soft) when unrefrigerated, so I recommend boiling it the day you want to serve it. You can always make the broth and scoop the melons a day or 2 in advance.
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Make the broth
- Combine coconut water, coconut milk, milk, sugar and pandan leaf in a small pot. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat. Let it cool at room temperature until it's lukewarm, then chill in the fridge until cold. Tip: If you're in a rush to cool it, sit the pot in an ice water bath!
Scoop the melon
- Using a small melon baller, or simply cut them into 1-centimeter dice. Chill the melons in the fridge.
Cook the tapioca pearls
- Bring 6 cups of water to a FULL boil. Sprinkle the tapioca pearls into the boiling water gradually and stir until the water comes back to a full boil again. Once the water is fully boiling again and the tapioca pearls are dancing away in the water, you can stop stirring and let them boil for about 12 minutes, until you can just see a tiny white dot in the center of the pearls. (Some pearls will have larger white dots, that's okay, as long as most of them only have a tiny dot inside.)
- Fish the pearls out using a fine mesh skimmer and dunk them immediately into a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking. Strain them through a sieve and rinse under cold water until tapioca is completely cool. Alternatively you can drain the cooking pearls directly through a metal sieve and rinse until cool. Drain well and divide them into serving bowls immediately (it's easier to divide them now as they will stick together more as they sit.)
- Add the melon balls to each serving bowl with the tapioca pearls already in them, then ladle the chilled broth over. Serve cold (you can add ice if it's not cold enough). Enjoy!