Derived from the cassava root, tapioca balls are processed, spherical pearls most often used as a thickening agent. The soft, chewy morsel rounds are the pivotal ingredient in desserts such as tapioca pudding and bubble tea, a sweet non-alcoholic confection popular with people of all ages. Although tapioca is also available in instant, or granulated, form, the more recognizable pearl form provides a chewy texture that is amenable to use in stews, gravies, pie fillings and sauces.
Bring 7 cups of water to boil in a large cooking pot.
Add the tapioca to the boiling water in a slow, but steady, stream until they rise to the top of the water and float.
Reduce the temperature to medium-low and place a lid on the pot. Continue to boil the tapioca for another 15 minutes, or until the pearls become translucent.
Drain the tapioca over a mesh strainer and rinse well with cool, running water. Use the cooked tapioca according to your recipe or cover and store the unused pearls in the refrigerator.
- For an old-fashioned pudding, soak tapioca pearls in whole milk for 60 minutes. Whisk in eggs, sugar and vanilla and cook over medium heat until the tapioca is fully cooked.
- You can color your tapioca pearls by soaking them overnight in assorted liqueurs, such as crème de menthe, dark rum or grenadine.
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