How to Cook Sago

Sago is the starch extracted from piths of tropical palm stems and is commercially produced and commonly sold in the form of pearls. They are usually cooked in water or choice of liquid and widely used in beverages and desserts. These spheres are really easy to prepare, requiring only for the most part boiling in water until translucent. But if you want them chewy or what I describe as “a bite with a fight”, I follow a certain technique on how to cook sago.

How to Cook Sago

I usually keep freshly-prepared sago in a bowl of cold water until ready to use but if I plan to keep the batch longer than a few days, I store the sago in a sterilized bottle with simple syrup to prolong shelf life. I included a recipe for packing syrup using brown sugar. Here are a few delicious things you can use sago:

  • Ginataang Bilo Bilo-a delicious concoction of palm fruits, tubers, banana, glutinous rice balls, jackfruit and sago stewed in coconut milk
  • Sago at Gulaman-a refreshing summer cooler made with gulaman cubes, sago and simple syrup
  • Ginumis-a shaved ice dessert much like the classic Filipino halo-halo but uses gulaman cubes, sago, pinipig and coconut milk
  • Buko Salad Drink-a must try! a rich and creamy drink filled with gulaman cubes, young coconut strips, nata de coco, sago, condensed milk and coconut milk
How to Cook Sago
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Yield: about 4 to 5 Cups
  • water
  • 1 package (14 ounces) uncooked sago pearls
For the Simple Syrup
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 cups water
  1. In a pot over medium heat, bring enough water to cover sago pearls to a boil. Add sago pearls, stir gently and cook for about 10 minutes or until translucent. Remove from heat, rinse well and drain.
  2. In the pot, add boiled sago and enough cold water to cover. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, and bring to a gentle boil. When water has boiled for about 6 to 10 minutes, remove from heat, rinse well and drain.
  3. In the pot, add enough cold water to cover sago and again, bring to a gentle boil. Repeat process until pearls are tender but chewy and translucent with no white in center. Under cold, running water, rinse sago a few times to remove excess starch. Allow to cool. Use as needed or store in simple syrup until ready to use.
For the Simple Syrup
  1. In a sauce pot over medium heat, combine sugar and water. Cook, stirring regularly, until sugar has dissolved. Allow to slightly cool. Transfer sago into a clean bottle and pour in syrup.



  1. Nelia says

    Hello, Lalaine,

    Really fond of your website, esp Pampanga cooking… synonymous to delicious and tasty Filipino food.

    Please bear with me if I have too many inquiries.
    Question about your Ginisang Pusit… does longer cooking the pusit tend to make it tough and chewy?
    Braising the pork hocks, do you mean pressure cooking?
    How can I incorporate sitaw with Ginataang Hipon?

    Thanks, Lalaine, and I am really blessed to come across your website. Thank you so much.
    Will always be a follower.

    • Lalaine says

      Hi Nelia

      Thank you for your kind words, I am thankful that you find my website of help with your everyday cooking. I don’t mind answering your questions and I am always glad to receive feedbacks.
      1) In the ginisang pusit, it is not really cooked too long. At the first stage, just boil it with the vinegar just until it begins to change color. At the second stage, make sure the tomatoes are already softened and have released much of their juice before adding the pusit. I find the 10 minutes to be just enough cooking time for me but of course, you can decrease the time just until the pusit is done to your preference.
      2) Braising means browning the meat and then cooking it in small amount of liquid until tender. You can brown the meat and transfer them to a pressure cooker if you like to speed up cooking. I’ve never tried it with paksiw na pata but I always cook my nilaga or sinigang in my pressure cooker.
      3) I have a recipe already for ginataang sitaw at hipon. here is the link

      Again, thanks for your patronage. It brings me joy to know that people are actually reading my website :) I will be glad to answer your cooking questions.

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