Taho is a Filipino dessert (though it’s also delicious for breakfast) that effortlessly marries the smooth embrace of silken tofu with the rich sweetness of arnibal syrup and the playful pop of sago pearls.
Also known as taho't sago, and táho, I first experienced it for breakfast when I was cooking at the World Street Food Congress in Manilla. Being one of very few completely vegan breakfasts available, my wife and I loved it and ate it every single day we were in the Philippines.
Taho is a masterclass on tender textures, with melt-in-your-mouth soft slivers of silken tofu gracefully mingling with chewy sago pearls. If you are a freak for pandan-scented breakfasts like bubur sumsum and kuih ketayap, consider this to be an easier, faster thing like that!
Don't be intimidated – there are only 6 ingredients needed, including water, and with this foolproof recipe, you'll master the art of making Taho on your first attempt! From perfectly cooked sago pearls to the aromatic pandan-infused sugar syrup, every step is designed to ensure your Taho experience is nothing short of sublime.
Let's dive in and make magic happen in your kitchen!
🥰Why you are going to adore the ever-loving heck outta this recipe
🔪 Perfectly Crafted Silken Tofu: One of the important steps that my recipe nails is carefully slicing silk tofu into thin slivers. The outcome is so much more attractive, and better at supporting the other ingredients than diced or (shudder) crumbled silken tofu as some recipes outline.
🍬 Arnibal Syrup Magic: I have written the recipe for arnibal syrup to work perfectly whether you are using palm sugar, coconut sugar, or brown sugar. Simmered with a knotted pandan leaf, it infuses the dish with a caramelized sweetness, and I also offer substitution directions for using pandan extract in case you can’t find fresh or frozen pandan where you live.
✅ Tested and Approved Worldwide: Like all recipes on my blog, I have meticulously perfected this taho, and then it has been tested in kitchens around the globe by a giant team of recipe testers. Rest assured that this recipe is foolproof, delivering the same delightful experience worldwide.
🌱Notable ingredients and substitutions
Sago and Tapioca are technically not the same thing, but they both can work in this recipe, provided you soak/boil them according to the instructions on your package. Any size you like will work, but my preference is for medium size. If you get sago pearls and don’t know what else to use them in, take my bubur cha cha recipe for a spin!
Most Asian grocery stores sell fresh or frozen pandan leaves. They are fragrant and add an irreplaceable aroma to desserts like che ba mau, and teas like bandrek. If you can’t find pandan leaves, you can replace the leaf with half a teaspoon of pandan extract. Just make sure to use a natural extract, as many contain artificial colors and other crappy ingredients.
Silken tofu turns this into a nourishing breakfast because it is high in protein, low in calories, and a good source of essential amino acids. Ideally, use SOFT silken tofu, but any silken tofu will work ok.
*See the recipe card at the bottom of the page for exact quantities, nutritional info, and detailed cooking directions.
- Ube Taho: In some areas of the Philippines, particularly in Baguio, they elevate Taho by adding ube extract to simple syrup or fresh mashed strawberries!
- Mango Taho: The Visayas region is where Mango Taho reigns supreme. It is made with luscious fresh mango puree or mango syrup with a hint of vanilla extract drizzled over the silken tofu and sago pearls.
📖 How to make gorgeous, flawless taho
Nail this Filipino sweet tofu breakfast on your first shot by following these step-by-step instructions with important tips. Or you can follow along with the easy-to-print recipe card towards the bottom of this page.
Cooking the Sago Pearls:
Begin by bringing a pot of water to boil, adding the sago pearls (or tapioca) and following package instructions for optimal results. In most cases, you will let them gently simmer for approximately 20-25 minutes until they achieve a translucent texture, remembering to stir occasionally to prevent sticking. Drain and rinse under cold running water in a colander or fine mesh strainer.
Crafting the Arnibal Syrup:
In a separate saucepan, whisk together water with your choice of palm sugar, coconut sugar, or brown sugar. Add the knotted pandan leaf (or ½ teaspoon of natural pandan extract) and salt, stirring over medium heat until the sugar completely dissolves.
Pandan takes over the galaxy:
Allow the sugar syrup to simmer for a few more minutes, letting the knotted pandan leaf infuse its unique flavor. Stir occasionally for an even mix. Afterwards, remove the pandan leaf and set the fragrant sugar syrup aside.
Spa time for your tofu buddy:
If you prefer to eat taho warm, place the block of tofu into a cheesecloth-lined steamer and steam for 6-8 minutes or until heated.
Who cut the Tofu?
Using a sharp knife or spoon, delicately cut the soft, silken tofu into thin slivers of varying thickness.
Assembling the Taho:
Spoon a portion of the arnibal syrup into a bowl or glass, adding pieces of silken tofu. Top it off with a generous amount of perfectly cooked sago pearls and finish with a drizzle of the delectable syrup.
Either smash that Taho for breakfast, or enjoy it as a nice fat-free and cholesterol-free dessert by serving it after classic Filipino delights like adobong sitaw, ginisang munggo, sisig, kalabasa, or ensaladang talong.
- Perfect the Pearls: Achieve translucent perfection by boiling the sago or tapioca pearls according to the directions on your package. Different brands and sizes of pearls can require drastically different cooking times. But in most cases, small or medium-sized pearls will need to be simmered for 20-25 minutes, with occasional stirring to prevent sticking.
- Assemble with Finesse: While you can get away with serving this in a bowl, I think it’s a lot more attractive served in a glass where you can see the pretty layers of soft tofu and syrup. When assembling, try not to crumble the delicate tofu.
- Warm or Cold: While taho is traditionally served warm, if you prefer it cold, just skip the tofu steaming, and wait for the arnibal syrup to cool before assembling.
The pearls are ready when they become translucent after simmering for 20-25 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking and achieve the perfect chewiness. Follow the instructions on your package, as different sizes and brands of pearls may require different amounts of cooking time.
Sago pearls and tapioca pearls are often used interchangeably, but they are not exactly the same. Tapioca pearls are commonly made from cassava starch, while sago pearls come from the pith of various types of palm trees. Both are used in cooking for their similar texture and are often used in desserts like bubble tea and Filipino Taho.
While Taho is best enjoyed fresh, you can refrigerate leftovers. Reheat gently to maintain the silky texture of the tofu before serving again.
✌️My faves to serve with this dish:
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Taho (Filipino Silken Tofu with Arnibal and Sago Pearls)
- Begin by cooking the sago pearls. Follow the package instructions for the best results. Typically, bring a pot of water to a boil and add the sago pearls. Let them simmer for about 20-25 minutes or until they become translucent, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.
- In a separate saucepan, combine water, your choice of palm sugar, coconut sugar, or brown sugar, the knotted pandan leaf, and salt. Stir over medium heat until the sugar dissolves completely.
- Allow it to simmer for a few minutes to infuse the pandan flavor, stirring occasionally for even mixing. Remove the pandan leaf and set the sugar syrup aside.
- If you prefer to eat taho warm, place the block of tofu into a cheesecloth-lined steamer and steam for 6-8 minutes or until heated.
- With a knife or sharp spoon, cut the soft silken tofu into thin slivers of varying thickness.
- Spoon some of the sugar syrup into a bowl, add pieces of silken tofu, and top it off with a generous amount of perfectly cooked sago pearls and a final drizzle of the arnibal syrup.