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Sweet Tapioca Pearls

People usually have strong feelings about tapioca — and if you grew up on the gooey tapioca pudding cups served in school cafeterias, those feelings may be strongly negative. Get ready to redress your childhood tapioca issues with this delicious combination of starchy tapioca pearls and nutty-sweet taro root.

Preparation time: 25 minutes

Cooking time: 30 minutes

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

6 cups water

2 cups (10 ounces) taro

1/2 cup small tapioca pearls

1 cup sugar

1 cup coconut milk

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 ripe melon

  1. In a large pot, bring 5 cups of the water to a boil.

  2. Cut the taro into 1/4-inch cubes.

  3. Add the taro and tapioca pearls; reduce the heat to medium.

  4. Cover and simmer for 25 minutes, adding additional water, as needed.

  5. When the tapioca pearls become translucent, add the sugar, coconut milk, and salt; cook for 3 minutes.

  6. Create melon balls with about a 3/4-inch diameter.

  7. Add 1 1/2 cups melon balls to the pot; cook to heat through, about 2 minutes.

With coconut milk, a full cup of sugar, and the starchy thickness of tapioca and taro, this dessert runs the risk of seeming pretty rich. But the little bit of salt gives the whole dish a more complex flavor.

Don’t succumb to the temptation of using quick-cooking tapioca in this recipe because it simply won’t give the same results as the pearls. Tapioca pearls are tapioca starch that has been processed into pellets ranging in size from about 1/8 to 1/4 inch.

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