We have four words for you: Coconut cream mango dessert but make it vegan. This Hong Kong-style coconut cream mango sago pudding is usually made with condensed and evaporated milk. But as two people who cannot tolerate dairy, we came up with a vegan-friendly version of this recipe to satisfy our cravings.
This mango pudding without gelatin only really requires mangos, sago, coconut milk, and another plant milk of your choice or if you’re out of plant milk, water will do just fine!
In this post, we’ll go over a few things:
- What Is Sago
- The Original Version
- Variations Of Coconut Cream Mango Dessert
- How Not To Cook Sago: Common Mistakes
- How To Cook Sago For This Dish
- Two Ways Of Assembly
Alright, we’ve got a bit of ground to cover here, so let’s dive right into a big bowl of mango sago with coconut milk.
What Is Sago
Sago, when not cooked, looks like little white pearls. It is an edible starch and made from a palm plant called Metroxylon sagu. It is a tropical plant and sago is a staple food found in most of the tropics. In Malaysia, sago is often incorporated into desserts. This is one of them.
The Original Version
Variations of this coconut cream mango dessert can be found all over Southeast Asia. It is a contemporary dessert that hails from Hong Kong and is originally made with mango, pomelo, sago, condensed milk, evaporated milk, and coconut milk.
This coconut cream mango sago dessert recipe has spread to countries like Singapore, Malaysia, Macau, and Thailand. It is most commonly served after eating dim sum and is a part of the yum cha experience.
Variations Of Coconut Cream Mango Dessert
A popular variation of this dish is mango sago pudding. Instead of a smoothie-like consistency, the dish is centered around mango pudding, typically made with agar-agar or gelatin -you know the ones you can buy in little snack cups at the Asian supermarket? The mango pudding sits on top of a creamy mango soup that has sago in it.
Another popular version of this coconut mango sago dessert is an ice cream type dish. Usually, a typical mango pomelo sago dessert includes a scoop of mango ice cream floats in a sea of sweetened coconut milk, filled with diced mangos, pomelo pieces and sago.
The flavors and elements remain the same but over the years, people have gotten creative with this vibrant sago dessert recipe coconut milk dish. Now that you’ve learned a little about it, how about we talk about the main component of this dish? The sago.
How Not To Cook Sago: Common Mistakes
Sago is one of those things that is easy to cook and will never fail if you know what not to do. So, before we teach you how to make sago, let’s first learn how not to cook sago for this mango sago coconut milk dessert. To avoid having gluey or starchy sago that basically disappears in your desserts, avoid making these mistakes:
- Washing and or soaking sago
- Using too little water
- Adding sago to room temperature water
- Over cooking sago
- Clumpy sago
Without further adieu, let’s learn how not to cook sago.
Washing And Or Soaking Sago
At the beginning of this post, we explained what sago is. Edible starch balls, that’s basically what sago is. When starch comes in contact with water before the cooking process, it will dissolve.
Soaking or washing your sago will remove the starch and yield a smaller serving size of pearls, starchy water, and misshapen lumps instead of perfectly round sago pearls. Which is not something we want for our mango coconut sago dish.
Using Too Little Water
Sago is not like rice. If you use an equal measurement of sago to water, all you’ll end up with is a gooey mess. Using too little water also won’t allow your sago to cook properly. Treat sago like pasta instead and use a larger water ration to sago. The more the better in this case.
Adding Sago To Room Temp Water
Another common mistake made when cooking sago is to add it to a pot of room temperature water. This is essentially like soaking your pearls, which is a no-no.
Sago must be added to boiling water only. Doing this will ensure that the outer layer of the pearls is cooked immediately upon contact with the water. This will form a sort of protective seal around the sago pearls and allow them to retain their texture and shape.
Over Cooking Sago
Did you know that sago has a cook time of about 10-12 minutes? Anything longer the starch from the sago pearls will disintegrate into the water. A lot of people often boil sago until the center is completely transparent assuming that that is when the sago is completely cooked.
What you want to do is boil the sago for 10-12 minutes until there is a little white dot in the center. Turn the heat off and place a lid over the pot. Allow the sago stand for 3 minutes.
The final step to getting perfect, not clumpy or gluey sago is in rinsing. Once the sago is cooked, the next step is to sieve them. This is completely normal and correct. However, a common mistake made is to dump the sago back into the pot.
After sieving the pearls, you should rinse them over a tap with cold water. Rinsing the sago after they are cooked removes excess starch that will otherwise make the sago stick together when cool. This is fine if you want to learn how to make sago pudding like these traditional Malaysian sago cakes but not for this dessert.
Now that you know what mistakes to avoid when cooking sago, you now know how to make any sago-based dessert. With that, let’s learn how to cook sago dessert for this particular dish.
How To Cook Sago For This Dish
Now that we’ve covered all the bases, let’s learn how to make mango sago dessert. This coconut sago dessert recipe comes together fairly quickly and can be broken down into two components:
- Sago pearls
- Mango ‘smoothie’
1. Sago Pearls
To make this mango and sago dessert, start by cooking your sago. Make sure your water is boiling before adding the pearls into the water.
Stir the pot every few minutes to keep the sago pearls separated. After 10-12 minutes the sago is cooked through but has a little white dot in the middle. Place a lid over the pot and let the sago stand for about 3 minutes. It should look like this:
After which, sieve the sago pearls and rinse them over cold running water to remove excess starch. If you are planning on using them straight away, add them to the mango smoothie mixture. Otherwise, store in the fridge for later use. Look at these perfect little pearls:
Storing Sago For Later Use
When you store sago in the fridge, two things happen:
- They clump together and look like sago pudding.
- They turn opaque and have an odd crumbly texture.
DO NOT -and we repeat- do not, reboil your sago pearls.
To revive your sago pearls, simply add them to a bowl with hot water and mix with a spoon for 1 minute. Sieve the pearls and voila, good as new. Now back to the recipe
2. Mango ‘Smoothie’
If you have some trouble cutting mangos, here’s a little visual guide as to how we did it. Start with cutting on either side of the seed-like so:
Turn your mango to the side and angle your knife. Follow the shape of the seed and repeat on the other side:
You should have four fleshy pieces of mango:
Reserve one side of the mango to dice into cubes for a textural element to the dish:
In a blender, add 3/4 of your mango flesh with coconut milk, plant-based milk, and mix until smooth. You can add sugar to taste. We skipped this step because our mangos were already quite sweet and we didn’t find the addition of sugar to be necessary.
If you want to make this mango sago recipe without coconut milk, simply substitute the coconut milk with a mixture of half evaporated milk and half condensed milk.
Two Ways Of Assembly
You can assemble this sago and mango pudding any which way you please but if you’re looking for some ideas to make this dish presentable, here are two options.
Fuss Free Assembly
If you want a classy-looking dish without the hassle of finicky presentation, simply add your sago pearls and 3/4 of your diced mango into your mango smoothie mixture. Stir until everything is fully incorporated and serve in glasses. Top with remaining chopped mango pieces and garnish with a piece of pandan leaf, like we did or a sprig of mint.
Layer Like A Trifle
Looking for something fancier? Why not layer this Why not layer this mango sago recipe coconut milk dessert like a trifle? Start by adding some chopped mango to the bottom of your glass, add a tablespoon of sago over it, and carefully pour in the mango mixture.
Repeat these steps until you are satisfied with your dessert. Top it with the remainder of your chopped mango and garnish with pandan leaf, a sprig of mint, or even toasted coconut flakes. Look at those beauties. Don’t they make you just want to dive into a big bowl of sago cream dessert?
There you have it, folks. Everything you need to know in order to make this coconut cream mango. What did you think of this post? Have you made any of the sago mistakes we discussed? Let us know in the comments if you made this mango sago coconut milk recipe and what you liked about it.
Looking for more sago desserts? Here are a few other recipes that will transform how you view these humble little starch balls:
Vegan Coconut Cream Mango Sago
This vibrant, fresh, and rich Hong Kong-style coconut cream mango dessert is typically made with condensed and evaporated milk but we've created a vegan-friendly version of this recipe for you to enjoy.
- 150g sago
- 5 cups of water (1.2 L)
- 2 mangos (about 800g)
- 200 ml coconut milk
- 100 ml plant milk of your choice or water (we used oat milk)
- A pinch of salt
- Optional: Sugar to sweeten (we didn't use any as our mangos were extremely sweet)
Add 5 cups of water to a pot and bring the water to a boil.
Important: Only add the sago once the water is boiling. When the water is boiling, add the sago and allow it to cook for 10-12 minutes. Remember to stir the sago every few minutes to avoid clumping.
While the sago is cooking, prepare the mango mixture. Start by peeling and de-seeding your mango.
Place 3/4 of your cut mango into a blender with coconut milk, plant milk (or water), and salt. Blend this until completely smooth and add sugar if necessary.
Dice the remaining mango section into cubes and reserve for assembly.
Set the mango mixture in the fridge to chill.
Back to the sago: It should look translucent with a little white dot in the middle. Once it reaches this stage, turn the heat off and cover the pot with a lid.
Allow the sago to sit in the covered pot for about 3 minutes. You'll know the sago is completely cooked when the white dots are gone and the sago is completely transparent.
Place the sago in a sieve and rinse over cold water. You can store your sago in a bowl with cold water until ready to use. When you want to assemble your dish, make sure to strain the sago to remove water.
2 Ways To Assemble:
First method: Add your mango mixture, sago, and mango chunks into a large bowl and stir. Serve in individual bowls.
Seconds method: Start by adding a layer of chopped mango to the bottom of a glass or bowl. Add a layer of sago followed by the mango mixture. Repeat this step until the glass or bowl is full. Garnish with a spoonful of chopped mangos and a pandan leaf if you have it.
- DO NOT SOAK OR RINSE SAGO
- Only add sago to boiling water
- You can make the mango mixture and sago can be made ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator until ready to serve