Tapioca & Chia Seed Pudding

You like pudding? I give you twice the puddingness.

Before I came to know about chia seeds, I was already acquainted with the gelatinous texture in another form – sago and tapioca pudding. The little white sago and tapioca pearls are popular in traditional Southeast Asian desserts made with coconut milk such as Mango Sago Pomelo and Bubur Cha Cha. These squishy jelly-like balls added a unique texture to the dish, making them seriously fun to eat. And then the chia superfood craze came along.

Although pearl tapioca, pearl sago and chia seeds exude the same ooey gooey texture, they have quite different botanical origins, nutritional properties and preparation. Sago and tapioca are almost pure starch, gluten-free, and very little protein or vitamins, being extracted from the pith of the Sago Palm stems (Metroxylon sagu), and the root of the cassava plant respectively. Both are commonly sold as pearls and require soaking and boiling to release their starches and become transparent when cooked. Because of their highly similar properties, tapioca pearls may also be called sago in common parlance and may be used interchangeably. However tapioca pearls come in different sizes and colours; there are some who also claim that sago is less sticky to work with. On the other hand, chia seeds come from the dried flowers of the chia plant (Salvia hispanica) and is ranked as a superfood. It contains a balanced blend of carbohydrate (44%), fat (31%) and protein (16%). The carbohydrate includes both soluble and insoluble dietary fiber, and most of the fat is heart-healthy essential omega-3 and 6 fatty acids. In fact, did you know that clinical trials on chia seeds have been carried out? Most results showed improvements in outcome measures in healthy subjects as well as metabolic syndrome patients. [via The Promising Future of Chia]

Then I thought about combining tapioca pearls and chia to create a Mother Pudding of all puddings. Adding chia seeds to the traditional tapioca pudding would also give it a nutritional boost. Because my generic packet of pearl sago did not have cooking instructions, I had to look up online on how to prepare them. Following several trials (and tribulations), here a tutorial on how to prepare a double whammy tapioca/sago and chia pudding. Best enjoyed layered with overnight oats or spooned over hot oats!

Basic Tapioca and Chia Pudding – A Tutorial
Vegan, Gluten-Free.

The night before, soak ~ 1 tbsp pearls overnight in at least twice the volume of water. You can also prepare your favourite overnight oats in another bowl.

The next morning, rinse rinse and RINSE the pearls thoroughly with lots of water to remove excess starch. Then boil the pearls in enough water to cover the pearls fully until it turns translucent. This should take no more than 10-15 mins. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking. When the pearls turn translucent and white dots are still visible (see below), immediately turn off the flame, cover and let stand for 10 mins. The pearls would continue to cook in its own residual heat, and then turn fully transparent. Run the cooked tapioca/sago pearls through a fine sieve under running water to remove excess starch. If not using immediately, the sago can be kept in a bowl of cold water until ready to use.

**The first time I prepared the pearls I did everything that you should NOT do – reheated the pearls in their overnight liquid, failed to rinse them through a sieve, and cooked them for 30 mins. That was a recipe for guaranteed disaster and behold, I ended up with a pot of white glue where the starch had all but dissolved into a sticky paste that was worse than any baby food.**

When ready to make the pudding, add the cooked pearls to non-dairy milk, about 1 Tbsp cooked pearls to 2 Tbsp milk for a thick pudding. Use more milk if you like it thinner. I love to use coconut milk here for its thicker texture and sweetish taste. A drop of vanilla also goes a long way to up the flavours. Stir in 1 tsp chia seeds and let stand another 15 mins to allow the chia to absorb and swell. By this time, it should have become a very jelly-like pudding. Layer with overnight oats to make a parfait or spoon over hot oats!


Here are some of the ways I’ve been enjoying the double pudding.

Round 1: Tapioca/Chia Pudding layered with Overnight Matcha Oats & Strawberries. (The pearls were overcooked in this instance) but the matcha/strawberry/coconut flavour pairing was great!

Round 2: Tapioca/Chia Pudding spooned over Balsamic Roasted Figs & Strawberries steel-cut Oatmeal. The pearls were perfectly cooked this time!

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Sabrina is passionate about all things health, wellness, conscious living and good vibes.

2 thoughts on “Tapioca & Chia Seed Pudding”

  1. I have never cooked with Sago, tapioca and chia seeds. There are just some things you ignore and continue ignoring without any proper reason. The tapioca-chia seed pudding looks delicious. You’ve given me reason to want to try these “forgotten ingredients”. I have bookmarked and I hope I will do something about it soon.
    The images of Sago Palm and cassava are so good, wow, thanks for sharing. Have a lovely day!

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