E.It’s been a decade since a mug with bubble tea became a trendy accessory in Germany: heavily sweetened tea, often mixed with milk, with tapioca pearls boiled in glassy glass and slurped up loudly through a drinking straw. Now teenage queues in front of narrow bubble tea bars announce the second wave of this drink, which originally came from Taiwan. The special mouthfeel of the soft starch pearls made from cassava roots has played a major role in the success of bubble tea.
The fact that this does not appeal to everyone – some disgustedly refer to the globules as fish eyes or frog spawn – only seems to motivate ambitious cooks. Tapioca pearls show their strengths not only in tea beverages, but also in dishes in starred restaurants. They are a very versatile ingredient, because they are tasteless per se, which can be approached with a large portion of wit.
With lime marinade and fish
The exceptional Swiss chef Tanja Grandits, who is at the stove in the “Stucki” in Basel, is a big fan of tapioca. She flavored pearls boiled in lime leaf water with a lime marinade and combined them with balls of cucumber and avocado. Another Grandits dish provides a mixture of tapioca, mustard seeds and elderflower as a side dish to crispy fish and mint tapioca together with raw sea bass cubes as a filling for cucumber lemur.
The Austrian cookbook author Margot Van Assche devotes an entire chapter in her work “Rose, Schwein und Feigenblatt” to tapioca pearls, processing them into a sausage with lovage, blinis with rose cream and a tortilla with hay salt – the starch balls replace them Potatoes. US chef legend Thomas Keller even has the starch globule as his protagonist in his “French Laundry” restaurant in Napa Valley signature dish A monument is set: In the dish “Oysters & Pearls”, tapioca pearls come together in a creamy sauce with oysters and sturgeon caviar. The obvious association with caviar is also used by other chefs: In the “Lido84”, an avant-garde restaurant directly on Lake Garda, Riccardo Camanini deceives his guests with two cams made of bright yellow spheres: one is made from pure char caviar, the other from Tapioca pearls, cooked in reduced orange juice. A culinary one Trompe-l‘œil.
Used in Europe as early as the 19th century
Contrary to what one might think, the globules are not a trendy ingredient in newer formats. Old cookbooks show that tapioca pearls or sago pearls (which are only allowed to be called that if they actually come from the sago palm) were handled in Central Europe as early as the 19th century. Katharina Prato cites sago as an ingredient for a soup and a sweet casserole in her standard work “Die Süddeutsche Küche”, first published in 1858. She also mentions an early instant product, “Knorrs Tapioca julienne”, which may have been mixed with pieces of dried vegetables. The book “Instructions in the finer culinary art” by Johann Rottenhöfer also dates from the middle of the 19th century, and in it encourages a generously sweetened sago soup with burgundy, cinnamon and orange peel.
In the 1920s, Lina Morgenstern explains in detail about the different varieties in her “Illustrated Cookbook”: “The real one is the pulp of the sago palm, in uneven lumps or round grains. The American sago is made from the starch of the sweet potato plant. Portland sago is obtained from the roots of Arum maculatum in America and England. ”(Today the arum is considered a poisonous plant.) And further:“ The German sago is made from the starch of the potato. ”So German sago! At Lina Morgenstern, this potato sago is boiled in milk and baked with plenty of butter, sugar, eight eggs and spices to make a rich, warm pudding.
When dealing with tapioca or sago, the same applies as for pasta: You have to boil the pearls, which are available in various sizes in Asian supermarkets or health food stores, in plenty of water or other liquid, without a lid. It is also important to either soak them beforehand or to rinse them properly with plenty of cold water afterwards so that the starch does not gelatinize everything – after all, the palate will want to be able to play with the individual balls later.