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Putting tapioca's magic to work ... in pie or pudding.

Putting tapioca's magic to work ... in pie or pudding Conjuring childhood memories, tapioca recalls visions of warm pudding swarming with tender, clear beads that seemed to resemble fish eggs. Even wonder what those gelatinous pearls really were?

They are a starch from the root of the tropical cassava or manioc plant. To reach an edible form, the toxic root is washed, peeled, and leached of its toxins, then finely ground. Repeated washing and draining follow. As the starch washes out, it is collected, dried, then pulverized to make a fine flour.

Pearl tapioca, large or small, is made from the flour mixed with water. The resulting dough is shaped into pellets and toasted on a griddle to create a hard shell. Pellets are then dried thoroughly. These hard beads need to be soaked several hours to soften before cooking.

Quick-cooking tapioca is a mixture of tapioca flour and water that is cooked, dried, and then ground again to make small, even pieces. The precooking and granular size make your preparation time considerably shorter.

One of tapioca's great attributes is its ability to hold moisture. When heated in liquid, particles swell and become transparent. Use the flour and quick-cooking and small-pearl tapiocas as you would cornstarch--as thickeners. Stir only until your mixture boils; stirring after boiling may make tapioca mixtures stringy.

Tapioca flour renders a smooth, clear sauce. Quick-cooking and small-pearl tapiocas swell and become clear but retain their shape. All three forms perform well in juicy fruit pies--even those with high acid, such as the fresh pineaplle pie that follows. Wheat flour and cornstarch may break down (liquefy) in acid mixtures. Because of its size, the large-pearl tapioca is less effective for thickening and is best used when you want to add a chewy, bouncy texture--perhaps to a pudding. Quick-cooking tapioca is widely available. Look for the tapioca flour and pearl tapiocas in Asian markets. Pearl Tapiocas are also available in some supermarkets.

Fresh Pineapple Pie

1/4 cup small-pearl (1/8 - in.) tapioca quick-cooking tapioca, or tapioca flour 3/4 cup sugar 5 cups 1/2-inch chunks peeled, cored fresh pineapple (about 2 lb., trimmed) 1/2 teaspoon grated lime peel 1 Tablespoon lime juice Pastry for a 2-crust 9-inch pie, rolled to fit pan

Mix small-pearl tapioca with 1 cup water; let stand until soft, at least 3 hours or up to overnight; drain. (Omit this step with quick-cooking tapioca or tapioca flour.)

Mix sugar with tapioca until blended. Add pineapple, lime peel, and lime juice; mix gently. Let stand at least 15 minutes. Line a 9-inch pie pan with 1 round of pastry, add fruit. Cover with remaining pastry. Trim pastry to within 1/2 inch of pan rim; fold edges under, flush to rim. Flute edges to seal. Slash top in several places. Set in a foil-lined 10- by 15-inch baking pan. Bake on the bottom rack of a 400[degrees] oven until juices bubble through slashes in center, 50 to 60 minutes. Cool completely. Cut into wedges. Makes 6 servings.

Per serving: 370 cal.f 3.2 g protein; 16 g fat; 57 g carbo.; 277 mg sodium; 0 mg chol.

Creamy Pearl Tapioca Pudding

3/4 cup small-(1/8-in.) or large-(1/4-in.) pearl tapioca 1-1/2 cups water 2 cups milk 1/2 cup sugar 2 large egg yolks 1 teaspoon vanilla

Soak tapioca in water until most of the water is absorbed, 3 hours for small, 8 to 12 hours for large. Drain.

In the top of a double boiler, combine soaked tapioca, milk, and sugar. Cook over simmering water, stirring occasionally, until tapioca is tender to bite and translucent, 25 to 30 minutes for small-pearl, 1-1/2 hours for large-pearl.

In a small bowl, beat egg yolks and a vanilla to blend. Stir about 1/2 cup of the hot tapioca into yolks, then stir mixture back into pan. Serve warm or cool; cover and chill up until next day. Makes 4 servings.

Per serving: 306 cal.; 5.6 g protein; 6.9 g fat; 56 g carbo.; 65 mg sodium; 153 mg chol.
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Copyright 1990 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:recipes
Date:Jan 1, 1990
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