Sunday, 13 July 2008


coconut tapioca soup with mango sorbet, passion fruit, cilantro syrup and coconut tuiles

* that's Meeta's Monthly Mingle Mango Mania

Seems like I embraced all the relaxing and doing nothing of our June holiday for a bit too long. Instead of baking and posting, we spent our weekends catching up with friends, enjoying the sun (something that very rarely happens here, so whenever we do have a sunny day, I try to make the most of it), and going to Belgium for a friend's wedding. We also had a lovely dinner party with our Japanese friends S and A; last time they cooked Japanese food for us so this time it was our turn to cook. We made them Gentse waterzooi – a sort of fish stew from Ghent. Which didn't look very pretty, but tasted rather good. Which was a good thing, because we had never made it before and it could have all gone horribly wrong. I had warned our friends though, that if it did, they would have the choice between an Indian or Chinese takeaway. Or halal pizza.

For dessert I also decided to experiment, with a multi-component concoction. But even if the whole thing failed, the sorbet bit couldn't go wrong so there would be something edible for dessert at least. And fail it almost did. I had set my mind on one of Claudia Fleming's composed desserts: coconut tapioca soup with sorbet and some garnishes – something sunny and tropical.

I had never used tapioca before, so I tried the soup bit of the dessert the week before. British tapioca must be different from American one, as I ended up not with a soup, but a very thick custard. Yummy, but not soupy enough. During the week, I looked up some other recipes and found one on Steamy Kitchen that sounded promising. So promising, I didn't try it out beforehand. Big mistake. Nothing wrong with Jaden's recipe, it's just that I didn't know how to cook tapioca and there were almost no cooking instructions on the packet. I started off making the tapioca soup first thing in the morning and had to make it three times before I finally got it right! Soaking the tapioca in water for an hour didn't work, I just ended up with a big mush. Boiling it separately in water didn't work either. What did work in the end (lucky me) was combining Claudia and Jaden's recipes: I cooked the tapioca in milk, which gave me a thick custard, and later added a milk-water-coconut milk mix to thin it into a proper soup. Phew, crisis averted.

For the mango sorbet, I used those incredibly sweet, small and pretty yellow mangoes which I finally found at my local market. Unlike those sour, unripe ones I used last time. They're not cheap, but worth every penny. And they come nicely decorated with ribbon and wrapped in some tissue paper. All I did was add a bit of sugar and some lime juice, bang the whole thing into the freezer and stir it every half hour or so.

The coriander syrup takes no time at all to make and the tuiles I wasn't too fussed about: if they worked: great, if not: tant pis. Luckily they did. They didn't look anywhere as elegant and thin as Michel Roux's version, but good enough to serve to our dinner guests. Who loved the whole dessert, seeing as how they asked for seconds and even thirds...

coconut tapioca soup
adapted from Claudia Fleming's Last Course and Jaden's Steamy Kitchen

1/4 cup tapioca
1/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 cup milk

Bring milk and sugar to the boil, add tapioca, reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until tapioca pearls are soft (appx. 35 minutes).

1 1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 cup coconut milk

Bring water and sugar to a boil. When boiling, turn heat to low and stir in milk. When mixture returns to a boil, turn off the heat and stir in the coconut milk. Remove from heat, let cool to room temperature and chill in refrigerator for at least 2 hours. Before serving dessert, add this mixture to tapioca mix to thin as required.

mango sorbet
adapted from Tessa Kiros Apples for Jam

about 1.2 kg mango (as this sorbet basically is frozen mango, everything depends on the quality of the mangoes)
1/2 caster sugar
juice of 2 limes

Peel mangoes and cut into small chunks. Put in bowl with sugar and lime juice. Leave to macerate for a few hours. Purée everything and freeze.

coconut tuiles
adapted from Michel Roux Jr's Le Gavroche cookbook

1 egg
80g caster sugar
80g unsweetened desiccated coconut

Whisk eggs and sugar, until just mixed, add coconut and whisk until smooth. Spread out thin shapes on baking sheet (the back of a fork dipped in water works well for this) and bake at 160˚C until pale brown, about 12 minutes. Transfer to wire rack and leave to cool.

To assemble: ladle some soup into martini glass. Add a scoop of sorbet. Add passion fruit, some coriander syrup and finish with a tuile. Enjoy.