As children, we never really knew what sai mai lo was so we jokingly always called it booger soup. However, I assure you that it absolutely does not contain any boogers whatsoever!
Rather, it is known as an Asian dessert called “Sai Mai Lo” and it is quite simple to make. It consists of water, coconut milk and rock sugar with cubes of taro and tapioca pearls (the “boogers”).
For those that are unfamiliar with taro and tapioca, taro is a root vegetable that is quite starchy, more so than a potato. It has a rough, fiberous, outer brown skin and the inside is a greyish colour with small purple specks. When cooked, it has a nutty flavour. Similarly, tapioca is made from starch derived from a root vegetable called cassava (some call it yucca). Cassava normally grows in the shape of a fat carrot and is brown on the outside with a whitish-yellow inside. When made into tapioca pearls, it has a chewy, gummy texture to it. Tapioca is frequently found in desserts, such as pudding and the ever so popular Taiwanese drink bubble tea.
Like most Asian desserts, this coconut-taro-tapioca dessert is subtly sweet. It can be eaten hot or cold and it’s probably one of my most favourite desserts in the world.