Coconut-Lemongrass Tapioca With Caramelized Citrus
Bouncy tapioca pearls, made from cassava, a West African staple, are paired with a soothing coconut-lemongrass broth and caramel-coated citrus slices. The fruit can easily be substituted with whatever is in season, such as raw persimmons, poached pears or caramelized apples. The crushed pistachios are optional but add a welcome pop of crunch and color. Serve as a comforting dessert or a casual midday snack.
- Serves: 6 persons
- ½teaspoon kosher salt (Diamond Crystal)
- 1cup/190 grams small pearl tapioca
- 2(13 1/2-ounce) cans full-fat coconut milk
- 1stalk lemongrass (about 2 1/4 ounces), tough outer part discarded, roughly chopped and smashed
- 1(1-inch) piece ginger, scrubbed and thinly sliced (14 grams)
- ¼cup maple syrup, plus more for drizzling
- 3 ½pounds/1 1/2 kilograms mixed citrus fruits, such as oranges, blood oranges, tangerines and pink grapefruit
- ¾cup/138 grams granulated sugar
- ¼cup crushed pistachios (optional)
Step 1In a small pot, bring 3 cups of water to a boil and add 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Add the tapioca pearls and simmer gently over medium-low heat, stirring frequently until the tapioca is softened and almost all the way translucent, 12 minutes.
Step 2Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot and allow the tapioca to steam and cook through completely, 4 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, cover it and refrigerate until ready to serve. You can prepare the tapioca up to 3 days in advance and store it in the refrigerator.
Step 3Wash out the pot and pour in the coconut milk. Add the lemongrass, the ginger and 1 tablespoon maple syrup. Bring up to a simmer over medium heat. Remove from heat and zest the lime into the milk. Allow the infused milk to steep while you prepare the fruit and the caramel.
Step 4Remove the tops and bottoms of the citrus by cutting the ends with a sharp knife so each fruit sits flat on your work surface. Cut the citrus peels off into strips, running your knife down the length of the fruit and carefully removing the white pith as you slice. Cut each fruit crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick rounds and remove any visible seeds.
Step 5Make a caramel: Heat a large (12-inch) skillet over medium. Add the sugar and cook, stirring frequently, until the sugar melts and forms a light golden syrup, 5 to 7 minutes. Cook the syrup until deep golden brown, about 2 minutes more, lowering the heat slightly if necessary to avoid scorching. Stir in the remaining 3 tablespoons maple syrup, squeeze in the juice of the lime and add remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Remove from heat and carefully add the fruit, a couple of pieces at a time, swirling the pan to coat the pieces in syrup. The hot syrup may bubble and splatter, so be careful here. If the caramel forms hard clumps around the citrus slices, return the skillet to heat over medium-low and continue to cook, swirling the caramel around the citrus pieces, until any hard clumps dissolve, 2 minutes.
Step 6Using a fine mesh sieve, strain the coconut milk into a medium bowl, pressing down on the aromatics in the sieve before discarding.
Step 7To serve, scoop a few spoonfuls of the tapioca into shallow bowls. Ladle the infused coconut milk over the top, add several slices of citrus and spoon in some of the caramel glaze. Drizzle with some maple syrup and garnish with the crushed pistachio, if using.