Honeydew Sago Dessert Recipe: A Refreshing Summer Treat!

Updated 29 August 2009

Originally posted 1 August 2008

Honeydew Sago Dessert

honeydew sago

In Malaysia, we have many soupy desserts. Some of them are served hot, like the Chinese “tong sui” (sweet drinks) and others cold (like cendol, ice kacang and es teler). The honeydew sago dessert falls into the cold category and it really is refreshing.

During Summer, melons are abundant in the grocery stores and the farmer’s market. One Saturday, we bought three melons at the Palo Alto Farmer’s Market—a bambino watermelon, an orange-fleshed watermelon and a honeydew melon (read about our encounter with a gross “Asian-girl fetish” man). The watermelons we planned to just enjoy on its own but I had plans for the honeydew melon.

Sago = Tapioca pearls

sago tapioca pearls uncooked

Sago or tapioca pearls can be found in all your Asian grocery stores and probably in some of the regular stores as well. They look like little tiny white beads. I love these things and will put them into any “soupy” Asian desserts abundantly (be careful though as they are also a thickener and too much can turn your “soup” into “pudding”). There’s another dessert that is made entirely of them and I will blog about that later.

Working it out

So anyway, we had brought back lots of stuff from the farmer’s market, right? And Nate had told you that he was working on the grilled pork tenderloin dinner with all the other ingredients. (By the way, I did not agree with his post—we had a little argument about it after it was published, yeah, our first blog fight *lol*. What I think he meant to say was that I also do look at what I have before deciding on what to cook BUT once I decide, I settle on a recipe (or adapt it) and go from there. He, on the other hand, starts chopping the stuff on hand and then continues searching for how to make use of it and what else to make with it…not very efficient…tsk…tsk…).

I love him anyway and sometimes it works out remarkably well. I just have to stay away so as not to get impatient. So while he was putting together this wonderful meal, I took a nap. I woke up feeling refreshed and came into the kitchen to work on my dessert dish. The whole meal came out really great and because pork tenderloin and grilled halibut are pretty light foods, there was room for my honeydew sago dessert which was a delightful way to end dinner and the weekend.

Honeydew Sago Recipe

½ honeydew melon (save the other half for enjoying plain)
1 cup sago (tapioca pearls)
½-1 cup sugar (depending on how sweet your honeydew is)
½ cup water
1 cup coconut milk shake the can before measuring out the one cup otherwise you will have really thick coconut milk only)
½ tsp salt


Make a simple syrup: Put water and sugar into a small pot and boil till sugar dissolves to make a syrup. Cool.

Boil the sago: Put a big pot of water to boil (to hold about 7 cups or more of water). When water comes to a boil, add sago to water and cook on med-high heat. Stir occasionally. Sago is done cooking when it looks translucent, about 8-10 mins. Caution: Don’t overcook the sago as it can become a sticky mess. Better to have a few pearls that have not turned translucent than to have a glop of melting sago.

Cut and blend the melon: While sago is cooking, cut half of the half melon into chunks

honeydew chunks in blender

and buzz in your blender till smooth.

honeydew being blended for honeydew sago dessert

Dice the remaining quarter of the melon into small ½ inch cubes (or if you want to be really pretty, you could use a melon baller).

diced honeydew melon

Rinse the sago: As soon as sago is done, pour it out into a fine-mesh colander and rinse with cold water.

Assemble the dish: Put the melon cubes and the melon juice together in a large bowl.

blended and diced honeydew melon

Add the coconut milk.

drizzling coconut milk to sago honeydew dessert

Followed by the cooled sago.

adding tapioca to honeydew for sago honeydew dessert

Pour in the sugar syrup little by little, to adjust the sweetness.

Salt trick

The trick to getting your dessert to taste better is to add a little salt. Salt enhances the sweetness of any dessert!. Stir it all together and chill.


honeydew sago

Cheers, Annie

This post was entered in the “Merdeka Open House 2009: My Sweet Malaysia” roundup, hosted by Babe in the City – KL

33 thoughts on “Honeydew Sago Dessert Recipe: A Refreshing Summer Treat!”

  1. >Hey I just made this and it’s in the fridge chilling. I did sneak a taste and it’s very good. I ran into a couple of problems though, totally my own errors. I used half cup sugar and half cup water and boiled until it looked like syrup, but when it cooled it was nearly as hard as candy! I added a little more water, heated it again, and it melted back just fine. In the end I only used just over half the syrup – the melon was nice and ripe and I don’t like things terribly sweet. My other problem was that I only had large sago on hand, not the small pearls, so it took over an hour to cook and then a lot were only half cooked and others were total glop. I guess I don’t know how to properly cook large sago 🙂 so next time I’ll have to get the small ones. I can hardly wait to enjoy this after dinner, which I have to go make now! Thanks for the recipe.

  2. >@Kristina – thanks for commenting! I like it when people tell me they’ve made a recipe that was posted here. Sorry about the sago cooking problem. There’s always next time 😉

  3. >I just made this and it's also chilling in the fridge! It tasted great, thanks for the recipe Nate & Annie!

    I am also going to try the killer kalbi recipe 🙂

  4. >I’ve tried this recipe several times and the sago takes more like 30 minutes to get translucent (this was true for the 3 different brands of sago I tried…but maybe it’s cuz I doubled the recipe and cooked 2C of sago in 15C of water?). Other than that, the dessert turned out great and everyone loved it.

  5. >Hi Annie..
    Thanks for the recipe. Indeed I am looking for this recipe, and I found it at ur blog. Nice blog! Thanks again.

  6. >Hi Ann
    Forgot to ask you – if I were to use fresh coconut milk, do I have to heat the coconut milk first before using? And will heating up ruin the coconut milk?

  7. >@Esmerelda – I’m so glad you found us!

    ryc: some people like to heat the coconut milk up first. It doesn’t ruin the flavor. But I like to have it at room temperature.

  8. >Hey Annie~

    I’ve tried making it… Tastes so good!! Well instead of blending d melon… i scraped it lightly with a spoon (since i dont have a blender here in uk… Anyway.. it turned out great! Thanks for sharing!!

  9. >Hi Annie, thanks for sharing the recipe. I had a sudden craving for this dessert last night and googled the recipe to your blog. It turned out really great. I used cantaloupe instead of honeydew. :b And I reduced the sago to 0.5cup which I feel is still too much cos it kind of absorb all the liquid overnight. Will use less sago next time. Thanks a lot ! Craving satisfied !

  10. >Hi Annie,
    This recipe looks great and I plan on making it tonight. A quick question (not sure if I'm just overthinking this): Your recipe calls for 1/2 melon. So when in the recipe we blend 1/2 the melon and dice the other half, does this mean a half of the half melon, or does this mean a half of the whole melon (meaning, do we use a quarter of the melon to make the juice, and a quarter to dice up, or do we end up using half of the whole melon for each part, thus using the whole melon in this recipe?)

  11. >Anonymous–I guess it is a little confusing but I did say to just enjoy the other half plain. Anyhow, to clarify–it's half of half ie. one quarter of the melon is blended and the other quarter is chopped. Hope that helps.

  12. >I tried making it once but it turned out not too good. Yours look really refreshing and can almost taste it deliciousness 🙂 Happy Merdeka 🙂

  13. >I remember way back when (we won't think about how long ago) you introduced this dessert to me. I've been a honeydew fan since then. Don't have any sago and am not sure where to get it around here but even a honeydew-coconut milk smoothie would taste good. Thanks for posting this recipe!

  14. >I've never had this soup before, but it looked so refreshing that I had to try it. Instead of making the sugar syrup, I added sugar to the honeydew puree and heated to dissolve the sugar.

    It was a total hit at my family's bbq – thanks so much for the recipe!

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