Sago or sago pearls is commonly known as tapioca pearls and are made from tapioca or cassava roots. They are normally white in colour and opaque and become translucent when steamed or boiled. Both terms of Sago and Tapioca pearls are often used interchangeably in Southeast Asia. Small pearls are regular ingredients used in Asian desserts like kuih, sago soup and puddings. While large pearls either white or black, are normally added to sweet drinks like the popular bubble tea (black sago pearls are often added in black and green tea drinks) and fruity drinks, giving the drinks a chewy texture. Today, sago or tapioca pearls also come in pink, green, purple and other extensive assortments of colours, usually with food colouring added.
Kuih Sago is a common Nonya kuih found all over Malaysia. Nonya (Peranakan) cuisine is the fusion of Chinese and Malay cuisines as a result of inter-marriages between the Chinese and Malays. The main ingredient is sago or tapioca pearls with sugar and colouring added and boiled until they are translucent, cooled in a baking tray. Once completely cooled, it is then cut into preferred pieces and coated in lightly salted grated or shredded coconut, served at room temperature or preferably served chilled. For my gluten free recipe, I am using fresh berries juice from a combination of strawberries, blueberries and raspberries. Using berries is a much healthier option than adding food colourings. My recipe is gluten free, vegan, soy free, nut free, corn free and egg free, and has no artificial colours.
Strawberries are made up mainly of water (>90%) and have very high fiber content. They are an excellent source of vitamin C and vitamin K and flavonoids (anthocyanidins). In addition, they also contain some calcium, magnesium, potassium and phosphorus. Blueberries is one of the few naturally blue coloured foods available, they are jam-packed with antioxidant from a plant compound called flavonoid (anthocyanidins). Blueberries are not only high in fiber but also contain minerals like iron, phosphorous, calcium, manganese, magnesium and zinc. They are a good source of potassium, folic acid (folate), vitamin C, vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) and vitamin K. Raspberries are made up of more than 85 percent water and are also very high in fiber. They contain calcium, magnesium, potassium and phosphorous, as well as vitamin C, vitamin K and vitamin B group comprising of folic acid (folate) and vitamin B3 (niacin).
Health benefits of berries include: may help with weight loss, lower cholesterol, aid in maintaining healthy hair and skin, support healthy teeth and bones, may lower blood pressure and decrease risks of cardiovascular disease and mental disorders, may assist with arthritis, help prevent aging related memory loss like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, may reduce risks of Parkinson’s disease, support healthy eyesight and reduce risk or macular degeneration, may lessen risk of cancerous growth, as well as help fight urinary tract infection (particularly blueberries). Berries are often referred to as superfood or naturally healing food due to their high nutritional values.