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Coconut Cassava (Tapioca) Dessert

This is one of my favourite childhood desserts. In the old days whenever my mom wanted to make this, she would ask us to help her dig out the cassava roots. This was always such a fun field trip even though it is just behind our 'kampong' (village) house. Which child wouldn't want to play with dirt and digging up earth, pulling out the plant roots, chopping up the plant and replanting them after that? I remember that I kept asking my mom frequently about when could we dig up the roots again after replanting it.:-) Then my mom would send us to hunt for a coconut (there used to be lots of coconut trees in front of our kampong house) and start shredding the coconut flesh using the old fashion method (ie. sitting on a long wooden bench with a metal spike at the end). It was such a fun and learning activity that I wish I could do it nowadays with my Little One.

Cassava or tapioca plant or yuca (most people associate it with tapioca flour) is a tall plant that can reach up to 15 feet sometimes. They survive not only very well in dry season (with high humidity) but also in poor soil conditions. Cassava can be easily propagated by cutting the stems into sections and just planting them into the soil before the wet season. Their leaves can be eaten cooked however they are very toxic raw. My mom used to cook these leaves in spicy coconut milk base. As for their tuberous roots, we usually boil them and eat them as they are (without any seasoning) or make them into desserts.

This is my entry for this Weekend Herb Blogging hosted by Lia from Swirling Notions.

Coconut Cassava (Tapioca) Dessert
  • 1 cassava root (peeled)
  • ½ fresh coconut (shredded)
  • sugar
  • salt
  1. Cut the peeled cassava or tapioca roots into medium-sized pieces and put them into a non-stick pan or wok filled with some water.
  2. Boil them covered until they are cooked. Make sure that the water cooking the cassava do not dry out before they are cooked or else they will be burnt. Fill in a bit of water if needed.
  3. Cut them into small triangles or cubes and put them aside in a bowl or salad bowl.
  4. Add the shredded coconut, some sugar and salt to the cassava pieces and mix them till combined. Taste to see if the seasoning is to your liking and adjust it accordingly.
  5. Serve at room temperature or cold.

I do not know how to really describe this taste but I'll do my best! The combination of flavours is balanced and one doesn't overwhelm the other. With each bite, you have the natural fragrance and taste of cassava and at the same time, fragrant sweet & salty taste of fresh shredded coconut blend together.


This dessert is best eaten on the day that it is made.

Coconut Cassava (Tapioca) Dessert
#1, by Amanda (02/22/2008)

Hi cooking ninja!
This is one of my fav too! ^^ do you by chance have the recipe for the baked tapioca dessert? love that alot as well!

Btw, i have picked u! Tagged you for meme! =)

#2, by Ling's Passion (02/22/2008)

My mum used to make this for us for breakfast when we were young and whatever left over will be reserved for tea time. If not for this post, I would not have recalled such sweet memories....

#3, by Bon Vivant (02/22/2008)

I've have never heard of this dessert! Thanks for sharing a great post - I always enjoy the personal history of a recipe.

#4, by Gert (02/23/2008)

We used to eat this when we were young too. We just dunk it into the sugar without the coconut:-):-) My grandmother used to grow this at our backyard too.

#5, by Paola Westbeek (02/23/2008)

how interesting! a friend was just asking for cassava recipes. i'll have to pass this along to her!


#6, by Judy (02/23/2008)

Oh my goodness, I have not had this for such a long time. I thought you meant the casava kueh whereby you bake the casava.

You used the fresh casava, did you? Hard to find here.

#7, by Little Corner of Mine (02/24/2008)

Oh yeah, I used to eat this when young.

#8, by Bernice (02/24/2008)

Wow, this is one snack that I love!

And you've been tagged by me! Do share 5 facts about you!:-D

#9, by The Cooking Ninja (02/25/2008)

@Amanda: I'll have to ask my mom about that one.

@Ling's Passion::-)

@Bon Vivant: It's a very popular dessert in Singapore and Malaysia. I don't know about else where in Asia.

@Gert: oh, I did that too when I was little. It tastes fantastic even with just plain sugar.

@Paola Westbeek: I hope your friend likes it.

@Judy: hehehe...me too. So good to get to eat this finally at home.:-D Yeah it is a fresh ones. Don't your local Asian store sells them over your end? I know over my end, even the big super market sells them.

@Little Corner of Mine: It's funny how these treats are no longer trendy for our youngs these days.

@Bernice: Ok.:-)

#10, by gattina (02/25/2008)

what an easy yet delicious recipe! Back then when I lived in Singapore, my neighbor generously offered some cassava... who grew a lot at their yard... oh wish I had your recipe that time!

#11, by s (02/25/2008)

Thank you for this recipe! I'm always looking for desserts to pair with Asian-inspired meals, and this looks just perfect.

#12, by Cakespy (02/26/2008)

This looks WONDERFUL. I have never heard of it before (but then again I live in Seattle, USA!)

#13, by Tyree White (02/26/2008)

Oh! the good old days.

#14, by keeyit (02/26/2008)

I like to eat that !! nice desserts...

#15, by A scientist in the kitchen (02/26/2008)

This looks delicious! We have something like this here in the Philippines, too.

#16, by Kalyn (02/27/2008)

Wow, very, very interesting. I don't know anything about this plant, but I'm always interested in learning about new things. Now I wish I could taste it. Great entry!

#17, by Anna (02/28/2008)

i love cassava cooked till soft them smothered in sweetened coconut milk.
i think this would be a healthier option using the same flavours. thanks for sharing!

#18, by Marichelle (02/28/2008)

oooh that looks good! This reminds me of a Filipino dessert we call cassava cake. It's made out of cassava, sugar, vanilla, coconut milk, margarine and condensed milk.

#19, by Cynthia (03/01/2008)

I'm fascinated by this. As I started to read I wondered if it was going to be a pone (cassava pone)

#20, by katie (03/01/2008)

What a wonderful memory! And a gorgeous dessert!

#21, by Christine (03/02/2008)

This looks delicious! Thanks for sharing the post.

#22, by Cakespy (03/02/2008)

Ooh, this looks fantastic. I am obsessed with cassava!

#23, by Mo (03/03/2008)

Oh yum. Love tapioca. Will be making this dessert.

#24, by beachlover (03/05/2008)

that is a nice dessert...anyway,are you still in Singapore?.

#25, by The Cooking Ninja (03/07/2008)

@beachlover: I'm back in France. Cold cold cold. Missing my family and Singapore and the food.

#26, by Farhan (03/28/2008)

I love cassava. My grandmother would make these for us too. She would pound the cassava with red sugar (u know the bright red sugar they serve with some Indian or malay desserts) and then press into a tray. She then cut it into cubes and tosses it with coconut.

This post is so nice and nostalgic..

#27, by The Cooking Ninja (03/28/2008)

@Farhan: oh yes ... I love those too. So delicious.

#28, by pixidria (10/05/2008)

I was brought up in S'pore and am still crazy about cassava. Even now living in Australia, I eat a lot of cassava.....prepared in quite a few ways.
I steam mine in the rice cooker (with trivet).
Does anyone have a good recipe for Philippine cassava cake?

#29, by Cassava newbie (01/21/2011)

"Boil them covered until they are cooked."
And how long is that? Ten minutes? Two hours? I have no idea.

#30, by The Cooking Ninja (08/01/2011)

@Cassava newbie: I check on them by poking a knife through them. If they go through, they are cooked. They are like potatoes. If not, you can steam them in a steamer. It works the same.:-) Hope this helps.