This Taho: Filipino Silken Tofu with Sago recipe makes for the perfect anytime-of-the-day snack. Simple to make, refreshing, and one of my favorite childhood treats.
If you’re in the mood for more Filipino recipes, then try my Pork Lumpia Shanghai recipe, next!
Taho: Filipino Silken Tofu with Sago
“Taho! TAHOOO!” Memories of Taho venders walking along the streets selling this delicious breakfast or merienda (snack) in the streets of a small province in the Philippines come to mind anytime I indulge in this delicious sweet treat.
Taho is a Filipino snack food made of silken tofu, arnibal (sweetener), and sago (tapioca pearls) beautifully layered in a cup and served typically warm, but can also be served chilled.
Trying Taho for the first time in the Philippines
I tried taho for the first time as a child, while vacationing in the Philippines with my mom and sister. My younger cousins would wake up, gather their pesos (monetary unit served in the Philippines) and wait for the Taho vendor to make his way to our street.
Sometimes referred to as local breakfast heroes, these vendors stand out; balancing two buckets on their shoulders–one filled with warm silken tofu, the other housing arnibal and sago pearls.
Upon telling him how how many cups of taho you want, he swiftly ladles the tofu into an 8 ounce or smaller cup, tops it with arnibal and sago pearls and finishes it off with a quick swirl of his spoon.
Taho is love at first bite; a perfect balance of sweet, chewy sago balls and custardy silken tofu. The flavors and textures marry so well together and a is such a comforting treat.
After first trying it in the Philippines, I enjoyed it so much that would beg my mom to make her own rendition, and sometimes, she’d obliged me.
What Type of Tofu to Use for Taho
Silken Tofu can be found in four options of firmness: extra firm, firm, soft, and silken. When making taho, keep a lookout for silken tofu. The texture is custard-like and delicate, which is ideal for this sweet-treat.
What is Arnibal?
Arnibal is the Tagalog word for simple syrup. Its texture is that of syrup, has a unique slightly burnt and caramelized flavor and is dark in color. It’s simple to make, requiring water, brown sugar and for those who prefer, vanilla flavoring.
If you prefer your arnibal on the sweeter side, the color will appear darker, richer, and have a richer mouthfeel. I prefer less sweeter arnibal, so mine tends to be lighter in color and thinner in texture.
What is Sago?
Sago are similar to tapioca and boba pearls, the difference is in the ingredients. Sago is made from an edible pith found in palm trees, whereas tapioca and boba pearls are made from cassava root. You can use either for this recipe.
Bear in mind that the larger the pearl, the longer the cooking time. Pictured for this recipe are large pearls, but oftentimes I opt for small tapioca pearls, as the cooking time is significantly less. You can find sago or tapioca pearls at most Asian markets.
How to Make Taho
Taho is simple in preparation and assembly. What takes the most time is cooking the tapioca pearls, everything else is quite simple.
- Cook tapioca pearls as directed on package. Once cooked, drain and return to pot used to cook pearls. Add a tablespoon of arnibal to lightly flavor pearls. Set aside.
- Let’s make the arnibal. In a saucepan, add water, brown sugar, and vanilla extract and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer and cook for 3-4 minutes or until you begin to smell caramelized notes from from the mixture and the texture is syrup-like. Turn off heat cover and set aside.
- In a steamer lined with parchment paper, carefully add silken tofu and cook for 10 minutes or until warmed through.
- To serve, scoop thin layers of tofu into a small cup. Top with warm arnibal and sago (or tapioca pearls). Serve warm.
My Take on Taho
What I’m sharing with you is how my momma would make taho for me. We prefer it less sweet, but if you’d like the arnibal on the sweeter side, (the traditional way) add an additional ¼ cup of brown sugar to what I suggest for this recipe.
In the Mood for Filipino Eats?
Then check out my childhood favorites that are also beloved by many:
Do You Love This Recipe As Much As We Do?
- sago (or tapioca pearls)
- ½ cup of sago or tapioca pearls
- water for cooking
- 1½ cup water
- 1 cup brown sugar
- ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 16 ounces silken tofu
- steamer basket for warming
1. Start with cooking the sago or tapioca pearls. Cook as directed on package. Once cooked, drain and return to pot used to cook pearls. Add 1½ tablespoons of arnibal to lightly flavor pearls. Set aside.
2. Let’s make the arnibal. In a saucepan, add water, brown sugar, and vanilla extract and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer and cook for 3-4 minutes or until you begin to smell caramelized notes from from the mixture and the texture is syrup-like. Turn off heat cover and set aside.
3. In a steamer lined with parchment paper, carefully add silken tofu and cook for 10 minutes or until warmed through.
4. To serve, scoop thin layers of tofu into a small cup. Top with warm arnibal and sago (or tapioca pearls). Serve warm.