Coconut Milk, Melon with Sago Dessert (椰汁蜜瓜西米)

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.


27 Responses to Coconut Milk, Melon with Sago Dessert (椰汁蜜瓜西米)
  1. Roxan
    December 6, 2010 | 4:02 pm

    Is boba (pearl drinks) as popular over there as it is here? The first one I ever had was the kind with the small tapioca pearls like the ones you’ve used in this dessert. After that the larger tapioca pearls completely blew up and that was all I saw from then on. Good to see the small ones are still around :) I’ve never made anything with tapioca pearls before, but it looks really easy! Someone once told me a long time ago that it’s really hard.. I don’t go to the chinese market often but I’ll add this to the list of things to get next time I’m there.

    • Emily
      December 9, 2010 | 2:57 am

      Yeah, I think the bubble tea (how I would called them) is quite popular here, but it is only available in places where there’s Chinatown.
      I think the larger ones (the ones in boba) take forever to cook but not the small ones though. Hopefully you’ll have a better experience with the small ones. They are more delicate and hence kinder. :P

  2. Amy Bakes Everything
    December 6, 2010 | 7:27 pm

    This looks so fancy, but sounds so easy! Well done, beautiful pics!

    • Emily
      December 9, 2010 | 2:57 am

      Thanks Amy. :)

  3. Tanantha @ I Just Love My Apron
    December 6, 2010 | 8:14 pm

    I will do the same thing whenever I’m in Chinatown! I agree with the tofu dessert. Now, I’m craving for it. I used tapioca peals on the sticky rice pudding too. I will post it sometimes. It’s the same as your method and just added more “toppings” hehe. This melon dessert looks super good! the bonus is I can make it in advance for a party. Sweet!

    • Emily
      December 9, 2010 | 3:01 am

      Uhmmm, I’m craving for the tofu dessert too. I heard it is good for our complexion?
      Oh yeah, my friend has just made the rice pudding with tapioca pearls. I think it gives the pudding an interesting texure… rather just plain rice.
      Glad that you like the recipe. :)

  4. torviewtoronto
    December 6, 2010 | 9:55 pm

    delicious we make without the melon lovely presentation

    • Emily
      December 9, 2010 | 3:02 am

      Thanks for your comment. :)

  5. Arudhi
    December 7, 2010 | 12:55 am

    Wow, melon in coconut milk sounds totally new to me! And it does sound yummy!

    • Emily
      December 9, 2010 | 3:05 am

      I believe it’s a Hong Kong styled dessert. Theoretically, this combo sounds a little strange, but it works beautifully. :)

  6. Ilke
    December 7, 2010 | 1:56 am

    I agree with Amy, this sounds really fancy! But I bet it tastes great! Never used tapioca pearls for anything, I don’t even know if they sell it at the supermarket here but I would definitely give a try to this if I can find it! Glad you tried the recipe :)

  7. Lau@Corridor Kitchen
    December 7, 2010 | 3:02 am

    I’m not much of a sago or tapioca dessert person but I gotta say that looks gorgeous. Nice one.

  8. Sandy @ Everyday Southwest
    December 7, 2010 | 6:27 am

    Your beautiful photo drew me here. This recipe sounds delicious. I’m always looking for recipes using melon but, I’ve never thought to use them in pudding.

  9. Nate @ House of Annie
    December 7, 2010 | 6:32 am

    Very beautifully done!

    We also love to visit Chinatowns wherever we go, poke around and see what’s familiar and what’s new.

    Thanks for the link back! :-)

  10. Leah
    December 10, 2010 | 2:56 am

    I wonder if mango would work instead of melon?
    Any thoughts?

    • Emily
      December 10, 2010 | 4:16 am

      Hi Leah,

      Yes, I reckon it would if not better! :D

  11. Joy
    December 15, 2010 | 9:20 pm

    Oh My. That looks so good. I would eat all of it. I wish I could make sago.

  12. Eunice
    December 19, 2010 | 2:28 pm

    Thanks for sharing.. it is, indeed, a good dessert for summer..=P

  13. Vanessa
    February 5, 2011 | 1:39 am

    Thanks for sharing, I usually buy this at Eastwood on hot summer days takeaway and thought it must be easy to make. I will try making this now :)

  14. Matinaki
    June 6, 2011 | 10:18 pm

    I love your blog! I just ran into it while looking for a black glutinous rice pudding recipe and i can’t stop browsing more and more of your recipes! This dessert looks really delicious + wanted to start using my melon baller… win win :)

  15. Ally @
    July 29, 2011 | 11:08 pm

    Yum! Rockmelon is one of my favourite fruits and I’m having an asian inspired dinner party tomorrow night, I swear this post was meant for me! (and was the first one I came across when I looked today, thankyou!

    • Emily
      July 30, 2011 | 2:19 am

      I love themed dinner party! I hope you’ll enjoy the recipe….you can make this dessert in advance but storing the coconut milk separately from sago and honeydew! It’ll take some pressure off from cooking and straining the sago on the same day as the dinner party. Happy cooking, Ally! :)

  16. Alexandra Ryan
    July 31, 2011 | 8:40 am

    Thanks for this recipe, I’ve been searching all over! Can’t wait to make it.

  17. Steamed Vegetable Dumplings | Om Nom Ally .com
    December 10, 2011 | 11:20 am

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