Semolina, sago and tapioca

Say the words semolina, sago and tapioca to British people of a certain age, and they will immediately think of puddings, sweet milk puddings made from these three items – not mixed together, I don’t mean! I know we had them at school… I’m not so sure I remember having them at home. Sago and tapioca were commonly called ‘frog spawn’ because, actually, that is what they looked like. We often had rice pudding at home – which is another milk pudding; so simple, rice, milk, sugar and a sprinkle of nutmeg.

Now I’m thinking about milk puddings, I’m beginning to wonder what these ingredients are – I know semolina is made from wheat and is similar to couscous, although semolina is white and couscous a yellowy colour… I’ve read somewhere that it’s dyed yellow… is that so? I must investigate further!

Sago comes from the stems of a tropical plant; it hasn’t much in it apart from carbohydrates, but I seem to remember I liked sago pudding which was always served with red jam – not jam of a particular fruit, special school dinner red jam. I would buy some to see if I still like it, but we don’t eat desserts… but could I make anything else with it? A quick search, and yes there are lots of things… for example:

  1. sago soup
  2. sago pilaf
  3. sago fritters
  4. sago dumplings
  5. sago pudding (e.g. honeydew melon, lemon and lime, cherry brandy)
  6. sago jellies
  7. sago cakes (e.g. vanilla)

So that’s semolina and sago, what about tapioca? Well it comes from the cassava, which obviously has to be processed to make the tapioca we know. So I’m asking myself the same question, would I still like it? Is it worth buying any to try, is there anything else I can do with it apart from making puddings? Well I can find plenty of recipes for tapioca flour, but not that many for tapioca pearls as the little round granules are known… there is sagu which is a Brazilian dessert made with red wine, sugar and cloves… and there is also ‘bubble tea’ – which I think is disgusting, so I’m not going to make that (sorry if you like bubble tea!) … but here are some things I have found –

  1. stuffed tapioca balls (stuffed with Chinese style minced pork)
  2. green coloured tapioca balls with coconut
  3. plain tapioca balls
  4. tapioca pudding (vanilla/honey, coconut/mango, lychee compote,)
  5. tapioca jelly
  6. tapioca curry
  7.  sweet spaghetti and tapioca

You can find all these recipes, and bubble tea here:

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