With cakes, cookies and puddings dominating our senses lately, I felt the need to move back to my Eastern origin and relived some of the food fond memories from my last visit to Chinatown in Sydney. Whenever I travel to nearby metropolitan cities (it would be Sydney for now), a must visit place for me is Chinatown.
Like many, my must dos in Chinatown are, of course eat, eat and eat. What else right? Okay, okay, maybe not all eat and nothing-else, there’s grocery shopping – just to bring a little Chinatown back to where I lived.
Let’s move on to my must eats – definitely Asian desserts besides Mamak (in Sydney) and Spicy Fish (in Melbourne). Although most Asian desserts are doable at home (except for, in my opinion, tofu dessert – aka douhua 豆花), it’s one of those things that tastes better when someone else makes it, don’t you agree? Plus, how on earth am I going to be able to savour 3 to 4 different desserts over the span of a couple of hours without spending all day in the kitchen?
Since I have no travel plan in the works at the same time longing a light dose of Chinatown (perhaps an early symptom of homesickness?), I suddenly remembered about this melon dessert that I had ages ago. For some odd reason, I had always thought it was a difficult dessert to make and thus, never thought of making it at home. After all, I was under the impression of good food was too good to be easy-to-make, if this makes sense?
That said, I’m glad that I’ve attempted the recipe and I can confidently said that it won’t be my last too.
Coconut Milk, Melon with Sago Dessert ((椰汁蜜瓜西米)
(tweaked slightly from House of Annie)
Makes about 5 cups
1 small honeydew melon / rockmelon
1 cup sago (tapioca pearls)
½ cup sugar
½ cup water
1 cup canned coconut milk with ½ tsp salt
1. Boil sugar and water in a pot until the sugar is completely dissolved and becomes syrupy. Set aside to cool.
2. In a separate pot, boil at least 7 cups of water. When the water is boiling, add sago and cook on medium-high heat until mostly translucent ( sago will dissolve and becomes gooey when overcooked – hence the visible white dots). Also, keep stirring to avoid the sago from sticking to the pot.
When the sago is cooked, drain it over a sieve and rinse it under cold running water. Set aside.
3. Use a melon baler, scoop the flesh out. Alternatively, you can dice the melon instead.
4. Keep half the melon portion for later (for serving) and blend the remaining portion using a food processor.
5. Mix the syrup, sago, melon and coconut milk in a large serving bowl. Chill before serving (note – as the mixture chills, the consistency will thicken a little).
A possible shorcut? If making syrup, boiling and rinsing sago are too troublesome, then look out for already cooked sago steeped in palm sugar in a jar (Ayam Brand’s Sago Dessert). With it, all you need to do is to add coconut milk and melon.
Feeling organised and do ahead? You can cut the melon, cook the sago and syrup ahead of time and store them separately for a day or two. DO NOT, however, mix them together and store. The sago will absorbed the liquid in the dessert and becomes bloated. So don’t be surprise to find teenie tiny frog eggs sized sago have grown to be turtle eggs, hehehe! Just kidding, but seriously, don’t mix the ingredients ahead of time.