Friday, April 22, 2011

Tapioca custard (p. 820)

I'll come right out and say it--I hate tapioca. I've always hated tapioca. It reminds me of fish eyes (I don't know why, it's not like people are trying to sneak fish eyes in to my food on a regular--or even irregular-- basis).

Josh has taken to bubble tea like a fish to water. I hate bubble tea. I learned how much I hate it while I was in Taiwan, where it seems to be the national drink of choice. Sucking up those boba is horrifying to me. So, it turns out I hate tapioca in all of it's forms. But when I realized that Josh liked bubble tea it dawned on me that he must like tapioca and a metaphorical light bulb went off. I could pawn Tapioca custard (p. 820), something I would never eat, off on him!

Obviously, I am not the only person who hates tapioca. The tapioca was on the very bottom shelf at the grocery store.

I whisked milk, sugar, quick-cooking tapioca, and salt in a saucepan, let it sit for ten minutes, and then slowly brought it to a simmer:

After about two minutes, I whisked in a beaten egg. I stirred it over low heat until it started to thicken:

I stirred a bit of vanilla in and voila! Tapioca custard!

It was everything I expected it to be but Josh liked it and it was certainly easy. The one bite I forced myself to eat did have a nice flavor but I couldn't get over the texture. I've decided my feelings are best described in haiku form:

Fish eyes or bubbles?
Is it really a dessert?
Ick! Tapioca

Random facts:
  • Tapioca comes from the cassava plant. There are two types of cassava: bitter and sweet. Bitter is preferred by farmers because it naturally deters pests and animals due to compounds that convert to hydrogen cyanide. Eating untreated or mistreated cassava can (and has) killed lots and lots of people over the years. Cooking is enough to eliminate the hydrogen cyanide in sweet cassava but bitter cassava has to be more thoroughly processed before it's safe to eat. Apparently the cyanide gets carried out in the water ( On Food and Cooking, p. 305 and Wikipedia). One would think this would cause major environmental impact.
  • Even so, cassava is the third most eaten carbohydrate in the world. It's particularly important in the tropics because it can grow in poor soil with low rainfall (Wikipedia).
  • Cassava is a gluten-free starch (Wikipedia), so it would be good for Celiacs and people with gluten-intolerance.

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