coconut and taro tapioca pudding

This post is sponsored by Eagle Brand® Sweetened Condensed Milk. All opinions are 100% my own. Thank you for your support! 

I cannot believe that we’re almost half way through December already! Time is flying by so quickly that if I blink, the year will be over!

The weather has been perfectly crisp and cold. It’s smells like holiday shopping and snuggly blankets and doggie sweaters! This time of year always reminds me of my favorite winter childhood memories— heads jammed into turtlenecks, way too many family members crammed into small living rooms, full paper plates balanced on your thighs, and someone always mixing about five different pots on the stove.

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Certain smells and tastes always automatically transport me back to times like these. Times when I got to stay up past my bedtime with my sister and cousins because all the adults were busy playing at two different tables of mahjong and we got to order Chinese take out from our parents’ restaurant. And then it was time for dessert! In typical Cantonese households, there’s not much room for homemade sweets. Dishes are typically deliciously savory and you’d grab your pineapple buns and egg tarts at the bakery! But every now and then, the parents whip up a nice big pot of tong sui (sweet dessert soup) and it’s the sweetest treat! There are a few typical tong sui’s, like another favorite made with red beans. But the one I’m going to share with you is my mom’s recipe for my all time absolute FAVORITE. I love it so much that I’ve been back for thirds in a single sitting. I probably have it running through my veins! It most likely explains my undying love for coconut and sweetened condensed milk! The smell of coconut milk alone brings me back and wraps me in a safety blanket of warm memories! I’m not exaggerating! My mom usually makes a big old pot of this at family gatherings around the holidays! Family members enjoy seconds and still have extras to bring home! I can’t believe it took me this long to ask my mom to teach me how to make it! I guess it’s one of those things that feel most special when it’s made by mom.

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The rounded nutty flavor of full fat coconut milk blended with creamy sweetened condensed milk makes up the base of this tong sui. Cubes of taro are cooked until soft— they are so lovely and have the best texture! They’re starchy and kind of like mashed potatoes when you bite into them but slightly sweet and nutty! Not to mention they’re actually packed with nutrients! Then we add tiny tapioca pearls for another level of texture! Although they’re tasteless, they add so much to this dessert! My mom likes adding a bit of rock sugar to taste, et voilà! A wonderfully creamy dessert for all the senses and can be enjoyed warm or cold! Personally, I love it very warm! But it can definitely be enjoyed straight from the fridge!

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A very simple tong sui that only requires a few humble ingredients, but one that has been a special part of my entire life— “sai mai lo”.


3 cups fresh taro, ½ inch cubes
3 cups cold water, more if needed
½ cup small white tapioca pearls, dry
2 tablespoons raw cane sugar, more or less to taste
1 13.5 oz can full fat coconut milk
7 oz (1/2 can) Eagle Brand® Sweetened Condensed Milk


Peel and cut fresh taro into ½ cubes. Place cubed taro and about 3 cups of water into a 2-3 QT heavy bottom pot. The water should cover the taro about ½ inch. Bring to a boil and then lower heat to medium and let simmer until taro is quite soft but not mushy.

Meanwhile, bring a small saucepan of water to a boil. Add ½ cup of small tapioca pearls to boiling water. Stirring constantly to keep pearls from sticking to the bottom of the pan and to each other, lower heat to medium. Continue stirring and cooking for about 5 minutes—small white dots will remain in the middle of the pearls. Immediately strain through a mesh sieve and run under cold water, stirring the pearls around to keep them from sticking. Soak in a bowl of cold water and set aside. 

Now that the taro is soft and can be easily pierced by a fork, add coconut milk, Eagle Brand® Sweetened Condensed Milk, and raw cane sugar to desired level of sweetness. Gently stir everything together, making sure to not mash the taro pieces. Some pieced will break apart, but be gentle. 

Strain the tapioca pearls through the mesh sieve, drain all water, and add pearls to the pot. Stir very gently to combine. Bring the entire mixture to a slight boil and then remove from heat. Cover with lid and let sit and mellow for about 20 minutes before serving! If you find the consistency a little too thick, add ½ cup of boiling water at a time, mixing well (and gently) to thin out.

Some people enjoy this dessert cold: let cool completely, chill in the fridge for a few hours and enjoy!

This dessert keeps well in the fridge, in an air-tight container. I usually just heat up a bowl in the microwave or on the stovetop! 


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