Taro Coconut Milk with Tapioca (西米露)

31 Jul

Summer is a time for cool, refreshing desserts. Xi mi lu is a popular Asian dessert commonly served after dinner at restaurants, and it is suuuper easy to make. The only difficult part is waiting for the damn thing to cool enough to count as “refreshing”. I burned about fifty layers of skin off the roof of my mouth by tasting it as it cooked.

PSA: Coconut milk fresh off the stove is Very Hot.


Taro Coconut Milk with Tapioca (西米露)
Adapted from Eupho Cafe (Recipe in Chinese)

2/3 cup mini tapioca pearls
600g (about one med) taro
2 cans coconut milk
1/2 cup sugar

Cook the tapioca. The original recipe says to boil water, turn off the heat, add the tapioca, and cover for 20 minutes. Reboil, turn off heat, and cover for 10 minutes. This doesn’t make any sense to me because when you cook tapioca, you have to stir constantly to make sure the pearls don’t stick to each other.  However, I followed the directions blindly and ended up with a solid block of tapioca. I spent the next hour or so trying to separate the pearls. Go Christine. You’re a smart one. Also, I don’t know why my tapioca is green.


SO. Let’s try this again.

Cook the tapioca. Bring about 3 cups of water to a boil and reduce to medium heat. Add the tapioca and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring constantly. The pearls should turn clear when they’re cooked, with no opaque white dots in the middle. Cooked tapioca is slightly chewy (or “QQ”), neither hard nor mushy. Immediately drain and transfer to a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking.


Now, taro is a PAIN to work with. They’re tough little buggers to peel, and bleed starch all over your hands. Do you best to cut them into 1cm cubes.


Toss them into a pot with the coconut milk and bring to a simmer. Add the sugar and cover, stirring occasionally until taro becomes soft, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat and chill in the refrigerator. When ready to eat, drain the tapioca again and add to the taro/coconut milk soup. Mix and serve.

Length of Procrastination: 50 minutes of hands-on time, forever and a half to chill.
Ways to Prolong Procrastination: Cook the tapioca wrongly and spend forever trying to separate the chunks.

6 Responses to “Taro Coconut Milk with Tapioca (西米露)”

  1. C September 6, 2009 at 8:17 pm #

    OMG, I looooooooooove Xi Mi Lu. Now with Taro???!! SWEET! ^_________^ Have you tried adding fruit like oranges and pears into it?

  2. PetiteAsianGirl June 5, 2010 at 5:44 pm #

    Thanks for sharing this simple recipe. I am making it on the stove as a type this comment! How did you get your tapioca to drain? Mine were getting all gooey and mushed together, and the centers weren’t even done yet. Draining was completely unsuccessful.

    • Christine June 7, 2010 at 9:33 pm #

      I think the key to getting the tapioca to not stick together is to add enough water. The water level should be at least twice the volume of the tapioca, and definitely boil it before you add the tapioca. I used a colander with really tiny holes to drain the pearls, but a bunch ended up getting stuck in the holes. It’s a huge pain, but I haven’t found a better alternative. >__<

  3. Kennie August 19, 2010 at 12:22 pm #

    I cook my tapioca this way – boil the water, then put the tapioca into the boiling water, then switch off and wait for about 10 minutes to see if they are done, if not, switch the stove back on and stir it, if they are done, drain them in a fine mesh and cool the tapioca under running cold water, you will end up with nice tapioca.

  4. Pradip Patil October 13, 2016 at 12:22 am #

    I will try this one for sure.


  1. Rebecca's Old Tavnazian Cookbook » Blog Archive » Lessons in Tapioca - - April 9, 2011

    […] for a way to use up that leftover coconut milk, I found Taro coconut milk with tapioca off of a blog with a really great name. Following her process all too well, I also ended up with a […]

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