3 cups water
4 tablespoons small uncooked tapioca pearls
1 pound (about 8) small (“baby” or “finger”) bananas, ripe but firm, peeled (may substitute regular bananas if unavailable)
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk (about half a can)
4 tablespoons sugar
Pinch of salt
Garnish: toasted white sesame seeds
Optional: 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (not traditional but a nice touch)
Substitute chunks of fresh mango for the banana, after soup is fully cooked.
Substitute chunks of cooked sweet potato or taro for the banana. This combination is known as bo bo cha cha and is served in Singapore and Malaysia.
Bring water to a boil.
Add tapioca pearls, and stir frequently to prevent them from sticking. Boil for 10-15 minutes, or until the the tapioca pearls are almost clear.
Cut peeled bananas on the diagonal into 3/4-inch thick discs.
Once the tapioca is cooked, add in the coconut milk, sugar and salt. Bring the mixture back to a boil.
Add banana pieces to the soup and simmer over low heat for two minutes.
Remove soup from heat and add vanilla, if desired.
May be served warm or cold.
If serving cold, allow soup to cool, then cover tightly and refrigerate for a few hours until cold.
Ladle into individual serving bowls and garnish each with a sprinkle of sesame seeds.