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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Sago at Gulaman

I'm in a Filipino mood. Been somewhat craving summer treats from the motherland. Summer days equals air conditioning and ice cold refreshing drinks. I'm digging deep down into my roots and sharing with you a classic treat. This is a common drink served by street vendors with their homemade foods. Sold for less than P5 per cup. Pesos. That's like a few US cents. I'm horrible with exchange rates, but I know it's considerably really cheap. You'd also find this at any, if not most, Filipino gatherings.

Every time I visit The Peach Kitchen, a fantastic blog that is run by Peachkins, I'm always reminded of the foods I grew up on. I did grow up in Los Angeles, I'm fortunate that there's so many stores and restaurants and parties that serve and make foods from the Philippines. On one of her recent posts (here) I saw a picture of a large container of this delicious drink and took it upon myself to make some. Actually, it's been on my agenda of things to make, but I've just finally had to push myself to make it. Besides, this is a "hot weather" drink.

Sago at Gulaman, which in English is translated to tapioca pearls and agar jelly, is served in a simple syrup as a shaved ice dessert or as a refreshing drink.

Sago (sa-go) are practically the same stuff you'd find in boba. Cooking tapioca pearls is a bit of a process. Not hard. It just takes a bit of time. There are three ways you can to do them:

1. Boiling the pearls the day before waiting 12 hours, boiling them again and wait another three hours or more before serving.
2. Boiling the pearls for 2 hours straight (constantly stirring)
3. Buy the "ready made in syrup" kind.

Option 2 and 3 are for those who can't wait that long and don't have much time. But you can still do the first one even if you have a time limit. Knowing me, I'll take option 1 and 2. For some reason, I feel like I'm cheating if I use option #3. Not that there's anything wrong with that. It's just how I roll. I've got some time anyway. Besides, this drink isn't hard to make. You just want the tapioca pearls for be really soft ad slightly firm and tender at the center.

Gulaman (gu-la-man) is a type of firm jelly made from agar-agar, which is process seaweed. Many Asian countries use them as well. You can use jello, but the consistency won't be the same. Or you can omit it all together. It's up to you. You can find them in three varieties:

1. The canned version, which is the jelly already made and preserved in syrup. The other side had an the English name of it. It didn't occur to me to picture the other side until I threw the can away. I think it had "ai jar jelly" written on it. I spiked it with a couple drops of banana extract.

2. A dry seaweed block. Similar to the consistency of nori sheets, but in different colors.

3. The boxed version like jello.

I took option 1. It's what I'm used to using. It's also has to be unflavored. You can these two items in many Asian markets.

There's really no special way to serve this. Put the tapioca pearls and agar jelly in a cup. Mix it with some simple syrup (brown sugar and water) and have it as a shaved ice dessert or as a iced drink. Eat it the tapioca pearls with a spoon or if you can get your hands on one of those jumbo straws.

I have one of those manual hand crank ice shavers. That thing it probably close to 20-years-old and still works like a charm. *knock on wood* It's like a workout just getting a cup-worth of ice shavings, but I'm happy to put the effort into it. Burn a calorie or two and add it back on with a sweet drink. The ice melts when I drizzle the syrup over creating instant liquid.

You can make a large batch for a party, too. I guess you can call it the Filipino version of the punch bowl because it's usually served in large containers. I've put the instruction for those who are adventurous to try the making the tapioca pearls the old fashioned way.

Easy-peasy and minutes to make that will satisfy the sweet tooth. It's a refreshing drink that beats the heat any day.

Sago at Gulaman

Sago (Tapioca Pearls):
8oz tapioca pearls
2 1/2 liters water

Gulaman (Agar Jelly):
12 oz agar jelly or jello (unflavored)
a couple drops of Banana extract

Simple Syrup:
1 c Brown sugar
1 1/2 water

(Note: you can also speed up the process by boiling the tapioca balls for 2 hours straight or until all or most of the white starch has disappeared. Be sure to stir occasionally to keep them from sticking. Make sure to replenish the water to prevent them from burning. Put into a container filled with water to cool them before serving.)

Bring the 2 1/2 liters of water to a boil. Add in the tapioca pearls and let them cook for 15 min. Stir constantly to keep them from sticking.

It will look like this after the first cooking. Still small, but a bit plump.

Drain and remove from pot. Rinse them in cold water to cool them down, then put them in a container full of water and let it rest for at least 12 hours or over night.

Slightly plumper.

Then boil them again with another 2 1/2 liters of water for 10 min. Rinse them in cold water to cool and then put them in a container full of water and let it rest for 3 hours in the fridge or until all the white parts have disappeared.

Fully grown. Doubled in size.

Putting it all together:
Cut the jelly into square chunks. Size is your choice. Add a couple drops of banana extract and gently mix. Set aside.

Make the simple syrup by bringing the 1 1/2 c water to a boil. Add the brown sugar and stir occasionally. You want all the granules to dissolve. Let it cool completely before using.

Take a large cup or drinking glass and place some of the tapioca pearls and agar jelly. Top with some shaved ice or or regular ice and drizzle in some of the simple syrup. Add water, if needed

Note: If not using all the cooked tapioca pearls, keep them soaked in water in the fridge or they will harden and stick to each other.


Anonymous said...

Never tasted that, but knowing the Jpanese, it could become a fad here!

Anonymous said...

This reminds me of that bubble tea I tend to see on the internet every once in a while.

Justin said...

this reminds me of the halo halo flavored ice cream we tried in san francisco at mitchell's

♥peachkins♥ said...

hahanapan kita ng iskrambol pag may nagdaan dito..

Nauhaw tuloy ako...

Phyllis said...

Wow Jenn, awesome post! I'm so impressed that you chose option 1 for making the tapioca balls. Lazy me, I'd choose option three. But funny, for agar agar I've only ever used the dried clear seaweed strips! That's so cool that you have a hand-crank ice shaver - got to get me one of those! Now I'm totally craving Southeast Asian desserts so I think I'll crack open a can of grass jelly!

chow and chatter said...

this looks awesome, like bubble tea, peachkins blog rocks doesn't it

Heather S-G said...

This is soooo cool, Jenn! Thank you for showing us how to make it! I've always wanted to try one of these types of drinks...and I just love the "bubbles"!!! :D

KennyT said...

Hi Jenn, kumusta ka? What a stunning summer drink! Looks so refreshing and I love tapioca pearls in it. Thanks for sharing.

Teanna said...

Woah! I have never, ever heard of something like this, but I am so intrigued!

Pam said...

Never had anything like it but I am certain I would dig it.

theUngourmet said...

Hi Jenn- I loved reading about your drink. I love learning new things!

My kids and I tried Bubble Tea once. Does your drink taste similar at all? The tapioca is really interesting.

Thanks for the showing us this today!

Sippity Sup said...

I bought these tapioca once in an attempt to make boba at home. Mine was a disaster. So I appreciate a proper use here. GREG

Mary Bergfeld said...

I've never had this but that will be remedied real soon. Thanks for showing us how this is done.

Pooja said...

Never had this before! Looks delicious!

Laura said...

You really REALLY need to enter some of your photos in the best foodie foto contest! Seriously gorgeous! Easy to enter just send me a link to your post and a note telling me which pic you like best! Your photos are so beautiful and simple. I like that.

Details :

zerrin said...

Never heard tapioca pearls or agar jelly. Those pearls are so cute during the process. To make a summer drink from these is so unique. It looks so refreshing with ice in it.

Christo Gonzales said...

this is definitely a think ahead kind of refreshment but it looks sooooooo worth it....

lisaiscooking said...

This looks like a fun and refreshing treat! Wish I had an ice shaver. That sounds great.

Tangled Noodle said...

This is so great, Jenn! I've been hankering for sago at gulaman but didn't even know where to start with making it (although I already have the tapioca balls!) As far as the price in the Philippines, 5 pesos is about 8 cents!!!!

Thanks so much for listing the options - I never considered the ready-made gulaman and dreaded figuring out how to use the dried stuff. I also have the old-fashioned hand-shaver that requires a giant block of ice! Maybe I should modernize and upgrade . . .

OysterCulture said...

yum yum yum - so refreshing. I think I cheated on my tapioca pearls. - I definitely did not boil as long as you said. I made a drink with watermelon and it was as you say perfect for the summer, but I really really want to try your version.

Diana said...

I'm a big fan of tapioca. The plumper, the better!

Jenn said...

R-G: I wouldn't be surprise.


Justin: I want to try that!!! I've heard about mitchell's. It's definitely on my places to visit them I'm up in SF

Peachkins: Yehey!!

Phyllis: If I'm feeling really lazy I'd choose option 3, too.

Chow and Chatter: Yes, it does.

Girlichef: It's really good. Not too sweet and just right.

Kenny: Mabute ako!! Thanks. i love tons of tapioca pearls in mine.

Teanna: ;-)

Pam: I'm sure you would

Ungourmet: It's different. Just a sweet suagar taste. Tapioca pearls are flavorless, so it gets its taste from whatever you put it with.

Greg: No problemo. ;-)

Mary: Enjoy!!

Pooja: Thanks!

Laura: Sent you an email submission.

Zerrin: It's mostly found in asian and southeast asian countries. it's worth looking into. ;-)

doggy: It's definitely worth it.

Lisa: You ca find lots of good cheap ones.

Tangled Noodle: Ah...thanks for the clarification on the exchange rate. I'm horrible at that stuff. Yeah I wasn't going to put in the effort to make gulaman from scratch. I'd love one of those electric ice shavers. That would be neat!

Oyster Culture: Go for it!!

Diana: Then you'll love this!!

Parita said...

Lovely Jenn, this is new to me, thanks for introducing this lovely sweet, love the last pic :)

Miranda said...

Yum. This looks super refreshing and terrific. I love Tapioca, so I am sure this would be a fav.

Thanks again for stopping by...By the way, did you post your vinegar chips? I bet they were amazing....

EricRiveraCooks said...

That would be a great starter for a cocktail.


Jenn said...

Parita: Your welcome!

Miranda: You'll Love this then. ;-)

Eric: it is.

Unknown said...

Wow! This is amazing! Just one of the many reasons I'm sending you a Kreativ Blogger award! Check it out:

teresa said...

i have never tried anything like this, but it looks so fun! great job!

Anonymous said...

sago! nostalgic stuff! I didn't really think it tastes good though, just love the chewy texture!

Navita (Gupta) Hakim said...

hey Jenn, my first time here n love this place. I have stuffed my self with sago pudding up until March this year (as I was in Hong Kong b4 returning to India). ;p

Infact at a couple of thai restos, they served this free at lunch time .yum.

Jenn said...

ValleyWriter: Thanks!!

Teresa: It's really good!!

burpadslurp: I, too, ove the chewy texture.

Navita: Welcome! Please come back often.

Nutmeg Nanny said...

I love how pretty it looks.

Jenn said...

Nutmeg: Thanks!!

tavolini said...

Neat-o!! I've never knew how to make these--thank you so much for sharing!!

Jenn said...

TavoLini: your welcome!

katie said...

love this post! So much fun info. The tapioca balls looks like frogs eggs...

I wanna make a fun flavor juice.

Jenn said...

Katie: They kinda do look like frogs eggs. lol.

Filipino Recipes Collections said...

This is very refreshing one for this coming summer :D

Try some Filipino Recipes Here!

Pinoy Showbiz News said...

Yup.. I should try this one this summer for my kids :)

Sarah E. Hoffman said...

I've been buying the quick boil tapico for homemade bubble tea. But it's a lot more expensive than the straight tapico. How long does the tapico last after it's final cooking? Thanks said...

I found a great deal of effective info here!

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