Sunday, July 11, 2010

Sago Sai Moo, Stuffed Pearl Sago

I would only make these appetizer when I desperately crave for them, which I try not to let it happens often. It takes too much times to make and too little to put in my mouth, and that is just torturing me because it happens to be my favorite one.

In Thailand these delicious appetizer can be founded easily everywhere - if you see food stalls, chances are you'll find one that sells these stuffed pearl sago.

Before making them, let's make sure that you are not confused between pearl sago and pearl tapioca (tapioca pearl)

Pearl sago is made from starch extracted from Sago palm tree. Tapioca pearl is starch from Cassava roots (Yucca roots). In general, they looks the same, and that how people be often mistaken, the different can be felt in texture. How would you know which is what? the label.

Tapioca pearl, size 1 mm.

The original of making Sago Sai Moo is to use pearl sago, but more and more pearl tapioca is used since cassava roots are more easier to grow when Sago palms start to disappear.

At my parents' house, we have a small swamp filled with sago palm trees. We always get a really good use out of them - every parts of the tree can be used. My younger sister and I used to have a play-house our big brother and his friends built for us using sago palm stems to build walls and the leaves to make thatch roof. We even spent a few nights in there.

Later when we needed a new pathway to get to the land, and the only way to get that is to fill the swamp, we decided to fill some small part of swamp just wide enough for cars to pass through, and try to keep sago trees alive as much as we can.

Some small sago trees at my house are growing back after some were cut down to make a pathway.

As expected, I couldn't find pearl sago here in New York, so pearl tapioca went home with me.

Prepare Stuffing
- 1/2 cup ground pork
- 1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
- 1/4 preserved radish (found in Asian grocery)
- 1/2 ground roasted peanut
- 1 table spoon herbal paste

- 1 1/2 table spoons fish sauce
- 2 table granulated sugar
- 1 table spoon saute oil

preserved radish

1. Pan on medium heat, add in oil, saute herbal paste until fragrant then add chopped onion, and saute until translucent.

2. Crank up the heat to high, add ground pork, saute until all the pink disappear. Season with fish sauce, sugar.

3. Add ground peanut and preserved radish. Saute all ingredients to incorporate - no liquid left. The stuffing should be a bit sticky together, so it'll hold its shape when forming a ball.

4. Taste it, the stuffing should lead with a bit sweet taste follow with salty, and it should taste a bit stronger than what you think it is because it will be a perfect taste when it is warped with tasteless pearl tapioca.

Set aside and let it cool down completely.

Preparing tapioca pearl

- 1 1/2 cups tapioca pearl (size = 1mm.)
- 1/3 cup or more warm water

Rinse tapioca pearl for a few times. Put them in a medium bowl and gradually add warm water then start to massage them until they're soft and sticking together - add a bit more water if they feel dry.

Cover them with wet paper towel or cheese cloth. Let them sit for 1 hour.
Rinsed pearl tapioca

Shaping, stuffing the balls

Scoop small amount of soaked pearl tapioca with your fingers, flat it out to from a disk shape - about 2 inches wide. Put generous amount of stuffing on and wrap it close forming a small ball - about 1 inch....continue making them.

Lay them on a steamer plate covered with lightly oiled parchment paper - leave some hole open to make sure the steam can come up. (if you can get some banana leave, use it instead of parchment paper. That is what we use in Thailand. It works fantastic for steaming.)

Steam them until they look almost translucent - take about 5 minutes - don't leave them to be completely translucent on the steamer, you will end up with over cooked pearl tapioca.

Tip : Pearl tapioca is sticky while it's still hot. They will stick to everything that comes to contact, so make sure that all tools using to handle it are lightly oiled including the resting plate.

Lightly coating the plate with garlic oil is the best way in this case. It gives Sago Sai Moo a very delicious smell.

It usually serves with fresh green leaves, cilantro and fresh Thai chillies - take a tiny bite for a good kick in a mouth.....


carolin said...

I don't eat pork, but these look really good! Love the way the pearl tapioca is white and then turns translucent!

pui, ปุย said...

Hi Carolin,

Thank you so much for stopping by. This stuffed pearl tapioca is really delicious and make great appetizer for he party.

If you like you can substitute chicken for pork. It's delicious too :)

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