8 cups water
1 cup sago pearls*
1/4 tsp pandan paste OR pandan aroma pasta (please don't use essence)
90g gula melaka,**shaved with a knife + 2 tbs water
1 1/2 cups coconut milk
*Don't be confused and buy tapioca pearls which are much larger and used in bubble tea. Uncooked, these are white and about 1mm in diameter.
**Gula melaka is a Malaysian style dark, palm sugar (extracted from a different species to the type used to make palm oil). Please look for brands that are set in a cylinder shape. It should be a very dark brown and soft enough that you can easily dent it with your thumbnail.
Bring water to boil in a medium non-stick pot, then rain the sago pearls in, stir with a wooden spoon, before allowing the sago to bubble away. The sago pearls are ready when they turn completely transparent. Don’t be too concerned if you can still see the slightest dot of white at the centre of each pearl - it will be adequately cooked.
Remove pot from heat and tip the contents into a sieve.
Standing over the sink, run lots of cool water through the pearls to remove residual starch then, using a metal spoon, fold the pandan paste through the mixture.
With paper toweling, grease moulds with the smallest amount of vegetable oil – jelly or disposable plastic cups, anything that flexes a little is good. Divide sago into 4 moulds. Cover with clingwrap and refrigerate.
Meanwhile, in a small pot, bring coconut milk to boil. Cool to room temperature and transfer to a small jug.
Using the same pot, unwashed, combine the gula melaka and water. Bring to boil and then refrigerate.
To serve, ease moulded sago into 4 small bowls, pour about 1/3 cup of the coconut milk into each bowl (up to you), with a heaped dessert spoon of the gula melaka (or to taste) drizzled over each bowl.
Encourage guests to press a spoon over the top of the sago to collapse the pearls and mix thoroughly with the coconut and gula melaka before eating.