Not Your Mother’s Tapioca: Coconut Tapioca with Caramelized Bananas, and Truth in Old Adages

Tapioca in a canning jar. Is that hipster or just old-fashioned?

Tapioca in a canning jar. Is that hipster or just old-fashioned?

Dear readers, prepare yourself for a shocking truth: I have never tasted tapioca. Not so shocking, you say? Maybe you’re right. But I love to try new things, and tapioca isn’t exactly post-modern molecular gastronomy, so I think it’s kind of surprising that I’ve never tasted it.

I associate tapioca with school lunches and books. A bit unusual, considering that there was no cafeteria in my grade school, and my high school never made the dish. In fact, the only place I’ve ever encountered tapioca was in the schoolroom lunches of the young adult books I read as a pre-teen, which were read more decades ago than I might care to disclose. In fact, one line of a book has stuck with me all of my life: “the tapioca of the mind.” I thought it was a very evocative line. I imagined things surfacing and disappearing in a viscous tapioca memory.

All these things make it sound delicious, yes? No? Surely you jest! So I wasn’t particularly enthused to realize that one of the recipes that my on-line bake-a-long group was making this week from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking Chez Moi cookbook.

Dorie’s recipe calls for pearl tapioca, which, when hydrated, resemble the bubbles in bubble tea. I had trouble finding pearl tapioca. I searched in 4 stores before I could even find regular old tapioca, which is what I finally ended up using.

Too bad for this dish that I couldn’t find pearl tapioca. The pearls of tapioca would have made the dish very bubble tea like, and been classy and modern. Regular tapioca makes it a tad old school, and not in a cool vintage kind of way.

Soaked tapioca. Kind of flavourless. Would be better in pearl form!

Soaked tapioca. Kind of flavourless. Would be better in pearl form!

That said…the addition of coconut milk to this dish makes it sooooo yummy! It’s definitely not your mother’s schoolroom tapioca! Dorie says that the combination of coconut and tapioca (from the cassava plant root) proves the adage that “what grows together, goes together”.

Basically, you’re cooking the tapioca in coconut milk (and one or two other things), so it has a very rich and authentic coconut flavour. Dorie suggests serving it with her recipe for Slow-Roasted Spiced Pineapple, but I’ve been fighting a migraine for several days and just don’t have the energy to make the dish, so I whipped up some caramelized bananas to top the tapioca with. Hey, what grows together, goes together, right? And do they ever!

Am sitting at my desk, with a parfait glass of the coconut tapioca topped with caramelized bananas beside me, and am typing this post rather disjointedly, because I keep stopping to eat another bite. Is sooo good with the caramelized bananas!

Never made caramelized bananas? Is so easy.

Good enough to eat alone!

Good enough to eat alone!

Caramelized Bananas

  • 1 banana, quartered
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 3 tbsp. cream
  • 3 tbsp. brown sugar

Melt butter in a pan. Fry the banana until soft. Stir in 3 tbsp. cream (actually, I just poured in the equivalent of coconut milk — Queen of Substitutions, that’s me!). Stir in brown sugar. Cook over medium heat until bananas are soft and the sauce is all caramel-ly. And…done!

I set aside some of the caramelized-banana-topped coconut tapioca for the DH and I for lunch tomorrow, and for the DH to eat for dessert tonight. But if he doesn’t get home soon, I’m going to have his helping too. Proving another old adage: you snooze, you lose!

Next Post: Lemon Meringue Tartlets. Really. Because they’re easy. Unless you’re fighting a migraine and then they’re just easy to eat. Pass the tartlets!

14 thoughts on “Not Your Mother’s Tapioca: Coconut Tapioca with Caramelized Bananas, and Truth in Old Adages

  1. Zosia

    Wow! Those bananas look fantastic! Apart from bubble tea, I’d never had tapioca before either. Glad you liked it (and I found the pearls in an Asian grocery store)

  2. Kim

    I love it!! “hipster AND old fashioned”! I hadn’t tried tapioca before either but I still couldn’t bring myself to try it. Good job for giving it a try and for such success!

    1. Margaret Post author

      Thanks, Kim! I thought the tapioca would be all gluey and gross, but the coconut and vanilla actually make it rather nice. Like coconut custard!

  3. Nana


  4. Diane Zwang

    Sorry to hear about your migraine. I suffer from them too so you have my sympathy. The caramelized bananas look great. This pudding really needed something. I will be making a different recipe next time one with eggs.


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