Taho. Soft layers of warm silken tofu with chewy tapioca pearls in a sweet simple syrup. Totally delicious and easy to make at home!
A classic Filipino dessert that is vegan and made with just 4 ingredients if you don't count water!
This delicious dessert is one of those that is light, sweet but the sweetness is wonderfully paired with the creamy silken tofu. I learned about this Filipino treat when I was watching street food videos on YouTube and the fascination began! The cooking time isn't too extensive for a delicious dessert like this!
History of Taho
The Tagalog word "taho" originates from the Chinese word "douhua" which means "soft soy beans pudding”. Taho came from China in the Han Dynasty. It was discovered by a chef that was trying to make soy milk.
In the Philippines, it's sold by a taho vendor in the early morning while it's still warm so customers could enjoy their first bite!
Warm Taho or Cold Taho?
Traditionally it's served warm, but you can enjoy this dessert at room temperature, or cold if you like! It serves as a dessert at any time of the day or a sweet afternoon snack!
Minimal Ingredients & Easy!
This dessert only contains 4 ingredients if you don't count water! If you live near an Asian market, you'll find these ingredients very accessible! You only need silken tofu, tapioca pearls, brown sugar, and a pandal leaf. If you can't find pandan leaves, feel free to replace with a teaspoon of vanilla extract.
Large Pearls or Small Pearls?
It's really up to you! If it's your first time making it and you want to the traditional experience go for the larger pearls. Most Asian supermarkets will carry both large and small tapioca pearls in the dried section.
You will need the following Filipino taho ingredients. ***Please scroll down to the below Recipe card for full measurements***
- Silken tofu: Soft silken tofu is highly recommended for this recipe for that soft texture. This is the key ingredient to this tofu pudding. I would not suggest using tofu that is extra firm, firm, or medium tofu. Soft tofu is usually the same as silken kind. It's the kind that melts in your mouth. Most Asian markets and some Western grocers will sell this kind of tofu.
- Large tapioca pearls or Small Tapioca Pearls: These are also known as large sago pearls or smaller sago pearls if you're using the small ones. You can also use black pearls, boba pearls, or brown sugar boba that you usually find in bubble tea or boba milk teas and cook according to package instructions. I personally prefer chewy sago pearls for this Filipino taho recipe! Most Asian supermarkets will sell tapioca pearls in the dried form. See visual below.
- Brown sugar: This gives the warm silken tofu a sweet syrupy taste and the iconic color. Light or dark brown sugar equally work for the sweet syrup. If you can't find brown sugar, you may use white sugar as a substitute.
- Cold Water: Half a cup of water to help dilute the sugar and create that sweet brown sugar syrup.
- Pandan leaf: This is a tropical plant found in Southeast Asia used commonly in many of their desserts and one used in homemade taho. Select Asian grocers will sell frozen pandan leaves. Asian countries love using this plant to give their desserts a grassy vanilla taste that has a hint of coconut. It's really divine! If you don't have pandan leaves, add 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract as a substitute.
How to make Taho
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Reduce to medium heat. Add tapioca pearls and boil according to your package instructions. For large tapioca pearls or small tapioca pearls, both my packets instructed to boil over medium flame for 15 minutes and allow the pearls to sit in the hot water covered for another 15 minutes until chewy and soft. You can strain the pearls or leave them in the water until you're ready to serve them with a slotted spoon.
Meanwhile steam tofu for 10 minutes until warm. If you prefer it cold, skip this step and move onto Step 3.
Transfer silken tofu to a cutting board and slice into thin layers or dice it.
Into a serving glass, add layers of the tofu with tapioca pearls in between.
In a small pot, add water, brown sugar and a tied pandan leaf. Bring it a boil for 2-3 minutes while stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Remove the pandan leaf.
Fill each glass with your brown sugar syrup. Enjoy warm or let it cool to enjoy cold.
Below are frequently asked questions about this taho recipe:
Where can I buy silken tofu?
Asian supermarkets will carry this type of tofu. You can use the boxed kind or the kind that comes in a tube.
Where can I purchase pandan leaves?
Select Southeast Asian grocers will carry this leaf in the frozen section as it's imported from South East Asia. If you can't find this ingredient, substitute with a teaspoon of vanilla extract or omit completely.
Can I replace the brown sugar with another type of unrefined sugar?
I haven't personally tried that but if the texture of your sugar is close to brown sugar, then I can see that working out!
How long should I boil the tapioca pearls for?
I'd first recommend to follow package instructions. If yours does not come with package instructions, try boiling in a large pot of water over medium heat for 15 minutes and allow them to soak in the hot water for another 15 minutes covered. It's important to cover the pot.
Other recipes you may like!
If you enjoyed this Asian dessert, check out these other dessert recipes:
- Chinese Tofu Pudding
- Mango Sago Coconut Drink
- Coconut Mango Sago Pitaya Soup
- Brown Sugar Boba Matcha Latte
- Coconut Mango Sago Dessert Soup
- Vegan Coconut Mango Sago
- Glutinous Rice Balls (Tang Yuan)
- Chinese Mango Pudding
- Rose Pandan Coconut Sago
If you enjoyed my Taho recipe, please leave a star rating and share it with your family and friends or on social media! Take a picture of your re-creation and make sure to tag me @ChristieAtHome in your feed or stories as I would love to see it!
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- 300 grams silken tofu
- ¼ cup tapioca pearls (large or small tapioca pearls work)
- 1 cup brown sugar (or sub with any sugar of your choice)
- ½ cup water
- 1 pandan leaf tied in a knot (or sub pandan leaves with 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract)
- Bring a large pot of water to boil. Reduce to medium flame. Add tapioca pearls and boil according to your package instructions. For large pearls or small pearls, both my packets instructed to boil over medium flame for 15 minutes and allow the pearls to sit in the hot water covered for another 15 minutes until chewy and soft. You can strain the pearls or leave them in the water until you're ready to serve them with a slotted spoon.
- Meanwhile steam tofu for 10 minutes until warm. If you prefer it cold, skip this step and move onto Step 3.
- Transfer silken tofu to a cutting board and slice into thin layers or dice it.
- Into a serving glass, add layers of the tofu with tapioca pearls in between.
- In a small pot, add water, brown sugar and a tied pandan leaf. Bring it a boil for 2-3 minutes while stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Remove the pandan leaf.
- Fill each glass with your brown sugar syrup. Enjoy warm or let it cool to enjoy cold.