Saturday 21 February 2015

Beans Revisited - Bubur Cha Cha with Large Sago 摩摩喳喳跟大西米

Some Chinese make this on the 15th of the Lunar New Year. This recipe is from my previous shop's menu. Hope you like it.

Bubur cha cha is a famous nyonya dessert in Malaysia. It is so famous that you can actually find it in places like Hong Kong (lewdly pronounced as mo mo ja ja which also means touching and holding), China and some Chinese restaurants in Australia and the States. The authentic bubur cha cha consists of an array of sweet potatoes with yam and black eye beans sweetened by fragrant fresh coconut milk sweet soup. If you are not wooed by its rich unique taste, you would definitely be captivated by its burst of colours such as orange, yellow, purple and sometimes red (from the coloured tapioca jelly bits) from the result of the use of various types of sweet potatoes and yam.

Bubur cha cha used to be one of the best sellers amongst the 15 odd type of desserts or sweet soup in my shop. It shows the popularity of this unique dessert. I suspect it is also due to the difficulty in preparing this dessert. An authentic bubur cha cha would have different types of colours and also the tapioca jelly bits that adds a chewy texture to the dessert. I admit my bubur cha cha lacks colour as I only use orange sweet potatoes (the Indonesian type as it tastes better than the yellow ones). I do not really fancy purple sweet potatoes either as it will taint the sweet soup with its natural purple pigment if left too long, making the water purplish.

I did mention that making bubur cha cha isn't an easy one pot medley. That is because you need to cook most components separately before the actual boiling which only takes a while. Therefore, whenever I make bubur cha cha, I tend to make more so that more can enjoy this dessert. This recipe makes for 12 people. You can always half the recipe if you like. I did not put tapioca jelly into mine but replaced with large sago which is also chewy. I included recipes for both below.

Tapioca Jelly

1/2 cup tapioca flour
1/4 cup boiling water
A few drops of red/green colouring


Add boiling water to tapioca flour. Knead until you form an elastic dough. If your dough is too dry (too tough and hard), add a few drops of water. If your dough is too wet (sticky to the hand), add a little more starch until you get a firm dough. Add colouring. Roll dough into a long strand of 1/2 inch diameter. Cut strand into 1/2 inch thick pieces. Dust with a little tapioca flour to make sure it does not stick. Put into boiling water. Remove and soak with cold water until needed.

Large Sago (to prepare 4 hours in advance)

50 g large sago
1 pot of boiling water.
A few drops of colouring


Add sago in boiling water and boil for 10 minutes. Switch off fire and let sago soak in water. In another 1 1/2 hour, switch on the fire again a bring to boil. Make sure you stir the sago a little so that the sago does not stick to the bottom of the pot and get burned. Boil for another 10-15 minutes. Switch off and set aside again. In another 1 1/2 hours, you could see that the sago is almost translucent with only a little white remaining in the centre. You do not have to cook all but continue to soak in water until sago is needed. When sago is thrown into the sweet soup later, it will continue to cook until just nice and chewy. Overcooked sago will loose the chewiness.

Bubur Caca with Large Sago


700 g sweet potato (you can use different sweet potatoes), cubed about 1 1/2 cm thick
500 g taro, cubed about 1 1/2 cm thick
5.5 litre water
350 g sugar
1 tsp salt
50 g large sago
60 g black eye beans
5 pandan leaves
2 fresh coconut milk

Cooking Instruction

1. Boil black eye beans in a pot until soft. Drain water and set aside.

2. Steam cubed taro and sweet potatoes for 10 minutes separately until half cooked.

3. In another pot, add water, sugar, salt, and pandan leaves and bring to boil. Reduce to simmer for 10 minutes. Then add in sweet potato, black eye beans and sago. Simmer for another 10 minutes. Add in taro last as taro tends to dissolve and lose its shape easily. Once all ingredients are cooked/soft, pour in coconut milk and bring to a slow simmer for 5 minutes before switching off fire.

4. Serve hot.

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