As a kid, I turned my nose up at the mere mention of tapioca pudding, despite the fact that I had never even come close to trying the stuff. I'm sure I'm not alone here. But for Marvin Gapultos, a warm Filipino tapioca porridge called tambo-tambo remains a favorite dessert. And why not? The tapioca pearls glimmer in a rich coconut milk broth, studded with fat, chewy rice balls and small pieces of sweet fruit. His version in The Adobo Road Cookbook is easy and fun to make (rice balls dough = tasty playdough), and his use of mango as a topping guarantees sweet success.
Why I picked this recipe: Somehow I've managed to go my entire life without eating tapioca-based pudding (or porridge). With this super-comforting recipe at hand, I figured now was as good a time as any to give it a shot.
What worked: Pleasantly chewy tapioca and creamy coconut milk with a generous scoop of sweet mango on top made for a deliciously homey dessert.
What didn't: I ended up cutting the porridge with some extra water before serving. It thickened up quite a bit, and I thought adding more coconut milk (and opening another can) would send the dish over the edge in terms of richness.
Suggested tweaks: Gapultos explains that he's eaten this porridge with any number of fruits and vegetables stirred in—sweet potatoes, bananas, and jackfruit, to name but a few. Consider this license to top the porridge at will. Strawberries would be great this time of year!
About the author: Kate Williams is a freelance writer and personal chef living in Berkeley, CA. She is a contributor to The Oxford American, Berkeleyside NOSH, and blogs at cookingwolves.wordpress.com.