Our best mango sago recipe makes an easy, healthy, creamy Southeast Asian mango sago pudding that’s made without cream – no coconut cream, no dairy cream, no condensed milk, nada. The secret to the creaminess is frozen mangos, just like with our mango smoothie – which also makes this mango sago pudding healthier than most.
This is the best mango sago recipe if you love a mango sago pudding or mango sago cups but you don’t love the half cup of sugar or cups of coconut cream and condensed milk that go into this delicious Southeast Asian dessert. Don’t get me wrong, I adore coconut cream and condensed milk works for many desserts, but they’re just not needed here.
Another reason this is the best mango sago recipe is because we actually use sago. It’s curious how many mango sago recipes that I stumble upon that use tapioca instead of sago. Why aren’t they just called mango tapioca recipes? Sago and tapioca are a bit ‘same same but different’ but they’re not the same. I’ll explain the similarities and differences between sago and tapioca below.
I’ve called this a Southeast Asian mango sago recipe because you’ll find variations of mango sago desserts right across the region, here in Cambodia, as well as other countries in Southeast Asia. I’ve noticed that some recipes attribute the origin of mango sago to a Hong Kong chain called Honeymoon Dessert, which appears to specialise in Southeast Asian desserts, however, I guarantee you that mango sago was being made and eaten here in Southeast Asia long before the Chinese business was founded in 1995!
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Best Mango Sago Recipe for a Healthy Creamy Mango Sago Pudding
This is truly the best mango sago recipe if you love your fruit driven desserts to taste of fruit and you prefer the natural sweetness of fruit to the sickly sweetness that comes from a combination of cups of sugar, dairy cream, condensed milk and coconut cream – all of which I spotted used in one single mango sago recipe!
All of those ingredients have their place in Southeast Asian desserts and I won’t hesitate to use them myself – I’m about to start testing Cambodian desserts for our Cambodian cookbook and I’ll be going through whole coconut groves’ worth of coconut cream. However, I don’t see the point in using them if they’re not needed.
And you’ll know they’re not needed in our mango sago recipe if you’ve made our mango smoothie, which is amazingly creamy simply from the mango being frozen overnight and blended while still frozen with a little milk.
If you enjoy this mango sago pudding, do browse our other recipes with mango, including recipes for easy homemade mango jam, mango and sticky rice, savoury mango salads and mango gazpacho inspired by a Catalan-style gazpacho we used to eat on Mallorca. You can find our full collection of mango recipes here.
The Difference Between Sago and Tapioca
So what is the difference between sago and tapioca? Keeping in mind that we’re talking about sago pearls and tapioca pearls, when I said they were ‘same same but different’, I was referring primarily to their uses. Here in Southeast Asia, sago and tapioca pearls are often used interchangeably in recipes these days and that’s probably why I keep stumbling upon mango sago recipes that call for tapioca pearls instead of sago pearls on the ingredients lists.
Sago and tapioca pearls are all about the texture that they give desserts, as both are flavourless, yet they soak up flavours like a sponge, which is why I don’t recommend rinsing and soaking sago. If you skip the rinsing stage, the sago will soak up the mango flavour instead of the water.
Sago and tapioca are virtually pure carbohydrates and are starchy, but the starch you’re not rinsing off isn’t going to harm you, as it’s not like you’re going to be making this mango sago recipe every day, is it? Is it?! If you’re concerned about impurities or chemicals being present by not rinsing, then buy organic sago or organic tapioca if you can. If you can’t, go right ahead and rinse after the pearls have been boiled and have expanded. But do it quickly, don’t let it sit in the water.
The main difference between sago pearls and tapioca pearls is that sago is made from the inner part of the stem of the sago palm tree, while tapioca is made from the starchy root of the cassava tree. Sago and tapioca are used right across Asia, Africa and South America, in everything from desserts, sweets and puddings, such as this mango sago, to soups, stews, pies, bread, baked goods, and most famously, bubble tea.
In Southeast Asia, I’ve found that people in some places use sago more than tapioca or tapioca more than sago, and what they use depends on a combination of culinary traditions and availability. It’s next to impossible to to find tapioca here, for example, so sago is mostly used in desserts. I only have a few tips to making this mango sago recipe as it’s super easy.
Tips to Making this Mango Sago Recipe
I only have a few tips to making this mango sago recipe as it’s super easy. If you don’t have any frozen mango in the freezer – and I recommend always keeping some on hand as who doesn’t love a mango smoothie every now and again – you will need to freeze some the night before. This just won’t be creamy enough if the mango isn’t frozen.
It’s very important to accurately measure your water and sago pearls so that you don’t over-do them and they become gluggy. For the sago pearls, I’ve used metric measuring cups where 1/2 cup is 125 g/ml, and we use a Pyrex measuring jug for liquids.
Don’t rinse and soak your sago beforehand, as explained above, as sago pearls love liquid and will soak it right up. Also make sure that you don’t start with cold water in the pot. You want a rolling boil.
I strongly recommend using a timer or stopwatch and following the times in my mango sago recipe below. They may be out by a minute or two or three depending on your stove, but they should be pretty close. It’s important to stir regularly in the first stage, stir continuously once the sago pearls thicken, and then stir frequently when the sago pearls are steaming.
When they’re done, don’t rinse the sago and definitely don’t let it soak for the same reason I mentioned above, because sago loves liquid and will soak it right up. The only liquid you want the sago soaking up is your creamy blended mango.
After you combine your creamy mango and sago, serve it immediately, otherwise, chill it in the fridge or even the freezer for a couple of hours. I’d recommend serving it immediately if you’re making this in the colder winter or autumn/fall months and chilling it if you’re serving it during the warmer spring or summer months.
Our mango sago recipe calls for a little garnish but whether you garnish or not is up to you. I like to add a few pieces of fresh mango (so do set some aside to defrost before blending it all it up) and some grated fresh coconut or dried coconut. Slivers or diced dried mango is also delicious as garnish.
And if you are serving someone with a sweet tooth, you could provide a small jug of coconut cream to pour on top.
Best Mango Sago Recipe
- 750 ml water
- 125 g sago
- 250 g mango frozen
- 125 ml milk
- 1-2 tsp sugar or to taste
- ½ tsp salt
- fresh mango and dried coconut
- If you don’t have any frozen mango pulp in the freezer (you really should), the night before making this you need to peel a mango, slice the mango flesh into cubes, transfer it to an air-tight plastic container or re-sealable plastic bag and freeze it overnight.
- To a pot of 750 ml of boiling water, add the sago pearls and turn on your stopwatch. Boil the sago for 10-12 minutes on high, ensuring a rolling boil is maintained, and stir every couple of minutes until the sago pearls are transparent.
- At 12 minutes, reduce the heat to low and put the lid on the pot, but continue to check on the sago and stir it thoroughly every minute or so to ensure the pearls don’t stick to the pot.
- By 15-16 minutes, the sago should have thickened up nicely. If the white dots have almost disappeared and the sago is coming away from the sides of the pot when you stir it, it’s almost ready. Turn off the heat, put the lid on the pot, and let the sago steam.
- At 25 minutes, the sago should be done. If the sago is thick and all the white dots have gone, transfer it to a mixing bowl, stir in a teaspoon of sugar and the salt, and pop it in the fridge to cool.
- In a blender, add the frozen mango pieces, cold milk, teaspoon of sugar and blend for a couple of minutes until thick and creamy.
- Pour the creamy cold mango into the sago, combine well, garnish with a little fresh mango and coconut, and serve immediately. If not serving immediately, return to the fridge to keep chilled until you’re ready to serve.
Please do let us know if you make our mango sago recipe in the comments below, as we’d love to know how it turns out for you.