Corner Café

December 30, 2011

Kuih Lapis Sagu Biji Melaka / 3-Colour Pearl Tapioca Kueh

Filed under: Kuih-Muih,Puddings — SeaDragon @ 12:00 am
Tags: , ,



How the year has flown by, it will be 2012 in a couple of days. So an early Happy New Year to all my readers and this will be my final post for 2011.
This is a colourful nyonya kuih from Malacca in Malaysia to welcome in the new year. Although I have eaten this kuih many times before, I did not realize it is specific to that city until recently, I just thought it is just another generic nyonya kuih. In Patricia Lee’s cookbook, Delicious Nyonya Kueh & Desserts, it is called Sago Melaka Lapis, and it is one of recipes from this year TV3’s Dapur Nyonya in Malaysia which features nyonya recipes from Malacca.
I have used Florence Tan’s recipe who is also the presenter on Dapur Nyonya. As it is not easy to get freshly grated coconut here, unless I grate it myself and only if fresh coconut is available, I have used frozen grated coconut which is more readily available from Asian supermarkets. I have also substituted pandan paste for the fresh pandan juice which saved some time. And finally of course, pearl sago is also not readily available here (even those that are labelled as sago in most supermarkets here are actually tapioca if you read the fine print on the packet), I have used pearl tapioca in its place. Nontheless it is still chewy and delicious.


Serves 8 to 12

250g pearl tapioca
200g frozen grated coconut, defrosted *
140g caster sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

pandan paste
cochineal food colouring
1/4 teaspoon rose essence (optional)

* If freshly grated coconut is readily available, use that!
1. Rinse the pearl tapioca, then soak in enough water to generously cover the pearls for 1 to 2 hours. When ready, drain the tapioca pearls through a sieve. Now start boiling water in a steamer (I use a wok) over a high heat. Lightly grease a 20cm cake tin with vegetable oil and line base with baking paper (or use banana leaf if available which will impart a lovely aroma).
2. Combine the drained pearl tapioca, sugar, coconut and salt in a mixing bowl; mix well. Divide the mixture into 3 equal portions.
3. Mix one portion with pandan paste, and the other with the red cochineal colouring and rose essence, leaving one portion plain.
4. Spread the plain tapioca mixture evenly in the prepared tin and press lightly to level with a spoon. Place tin in the steamer, wipe the moisture off the steamer lid first so that water droplets do not drip onto the sago mixture, and steam for about 15 minutes, or until tapioca is transparent and cooked. Remove tin from steamer (also top up water in steamer at this time if necessary), spread the green pandan tapioca on top of the steamed plain tapioca, and steam again for another 15 minutes until tapioca is cooked. Repeat the process with the red portion and steam for another 15-20 minutes until cooked.


5. When cooked, remove the tin from steamer. Set aside to cool completely before turning out. Cut with a sturdy plastic knife and serve with tea or cold drink.

Taste: Soft, chewy, starchy pudding
Consume: Best within 2-3 days
Storage: Store in airtight container in the refrigerator
Recipe Reference(s): “Steamed Pearl Sago with Coconut” recipe by Florence Tan


  1. southeast asian territories have lots of these. so delicious to bite it. 🙂

    Comment by spiky — January 29, 2012 @ 11:05 pm | Reply

  2. wah! This one really made me think back my kids time. Looked delicious!

    Comment by Foodcrave — February 23, 2012 @ 7:23 am | Reply

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