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Archive for the ‘sago pearls’ Category

In a recent comment here, one of our readers requested for grandma’s recipes for Chinese New Year goodies. Well, grandma never did much CNY baking in my memory and the recipes in her notebook seem to reflect this as well.

However, I have just come across this cut-out from the newspaper, most likely The Straits Times from sometime in the late 1950s or 1960s, which has two CNY recipes submitted by readers. This must be from the same food column which published the Christmas Pudding recipe.

With Chinese New Year less than a month away, you might want to have a go at these two recipes: ‘Toothless Delight”, which is actually a ball of sago pearls rolled in coconut and the familiar CNY cashew nut cookies, although the recipe here in fact comes from an Indian reader :)!

Both the recipes come from readers in Johor state: one from Batu Pahat, the other from Johor Bahru; if this was indeed from The Straits Times, it reveals the readership of this Singapore newspaper included those in the neighbouring Malayan state. Historically, Johor had always been closely linked to Singapore in economic and social terms because of the geographical proximity, Singapore being the nearest big city (and much further back, Singapore had been part of the Johore Sultanate). After the Second World War, new political entities were created that placed artificial divisions between Singapore and Johore: the Federation of Malaya (formed in 1948, gained independence in 1957) which excluded the Colony of Singapore. However, the textures of everyday life, such as newspaper distribution and readership show that long-standing patterns continued regardless.

The ingredients in ‘Toothless Delight’ include ice cream in ‘soda flavour’ or ‘fruity pineapple flavour’. I don’t see this incorporated into the recipe instructions, so perhaps it’s for serving on the side. Read my earlier notes on the history of commercial ice cream in Singapore here.

New Year Goodies

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This one is interesting because of the use of ‘quick cooking tapioca’. I had always thought this was a western name for what is more commonly know in Singapore/Malaysia as ‘sago’ (here, ‘tapioca’ immediately brings to mind the entire root vegetable, not processed pearls). However a quick search on the internet reveals that sago and tapioca pearls are similar but not identical. Apparently they can be used interchangeably. I have no idea whether the ‘sago’ I have been eating in kueh-kueh all these years is technically from the sago palm or from the tapioca (cassava) plant!Incidentally, one of my favourite childhood desserts is sago pudding, which is not commonly sold at food stalls or restaurants. It’s so simple yet so delicious: chilled sago mounds sitting in a swirl of coconut milk and gula melaka sugar **yummmm**.

For a long time I didn’t realise that those chewy, ‘QQ’ pearls in bubble tea are actually made from tapioca too – humongous cousins of the teeny little sago pearls in sago pudding! Read more here about bubble tea pearls and the difference between American and Southeast Asian perceptions of tapioca/sago pearls.

Cranberry Orange Pie

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