Homemade Taho (Filipino Silken Tofu with Sago or Tapioca Pearls) in a glass cup.

Taho: Filipino Silken Tofu with Sago Pearls and Syrup

Taho is a classic sweet treat in the Philippines made with silken tofu, sago or tapioca pearls, and a simple brown sugar syrup. Served warm, it’s popular as a comforting breakfast or merienda (snack) any time of the day!

Homemade Taho (Filipino Silken Tofu with Sago or Tapioca Pearls) in a glass cup.
Taho: Filipino Silken Tofu with Sago Pearls and Syrup

Taho is a classic sweet snack in the Philippines made with silken tofu, sago or tapioca pearls, and a simple brown sugar syrup. Served warm, it’s popular as a comforting breakfast or for merienda (snack) any time of the day!

Homemade taho in a glass on a cream dish.

I was six years old when I had my first encounter with Taho. I was on vacation in the Philippines, alone in my grandmother’s bedroom, peering out the window, spying the children my age walking to school. I remember observing their lovely sailor-style uniforms, and thinking to myself how much smarter they looked than my school’s green plaid jumpers. The girls walked in pairs down the street, freshly washed from the morning rain, and I remember my cousin joining me and we decided to play a quick trick.

A boy was walking behind the girls, half a block away. Taking care to duck behind our second-floor windows, we gave a little whistle. We peeked over the ledge, and sure enough, the girls turned around and glared at the boy, poor thing. He was shocked and defenseless!

We did it again.

Oh, that poor boy!

Homemade Filipino Tao in a glass.

But then we heard a man’s voice. Taho!!!! He cried. He had two metal covered buckets balancing on a wooden pole on his shoulders. I had never seen anything like it! Curious, I perched forward on the windowsill and watched as someone walked up to him with some pesos. The Taho man lowered his buckets to the ground and ladled something white and silky into a cup. From the other bucket, another scoop, this time a dark liquid.

Pouring arnibal into taho in a glass.

The customer took his cup and sipped it. And even before I tasted Taho, I was mesmerized. I knew I had to try it.

What is Taho?

Taho is a beloved snack in the Philippines, almost like a drinkable custard made with warm silken tofu, sago pearls, and arnibal, a simple brown sugar syrup. Sago pearls are similar to tapioca pearls, and like the boba you find in bubble tea. To the indoctrinated, it sounds like a crazy combination of ingredients, but believe me when I tell you, it is as delicious as I imagined, when I first spied taho from my grandmother’s bedroom window. Served warm, it’s sweet and comforting, the silken tofu much like a custard, with the satisfying chew from sago or tapioca pearls. When I first made homemade taho, I would use warm maple syrup as a quick substitute from the arnibal, and between you and me, that’s a fine way to go about it, too.

silken tofu for Taho in a bamboo steamer.

Taho can also be found in China, Japan, Thailand, and Vietnam, and I’ve seen different versions in the Asian markets here, stateside. In the Philippines, though, it’s one of the first street foods I fell in love with, and part of it is from the cry of the vendors singing, “Tahoooooo!” in the early morning. But it really is absolutely delicious. It’s a treat popular at breakfast, or for merienda (snack). I personally love eating it warm, but it can also be enjoyed chilled for a cool treat.

Taho-Filipino Silken Tofu with Sago in a glass.

Looking for More Merienda?

Looking for more merienda treats? I’m joining my fellow Filipina bloggers for a virtual merienda to celebrate Filipino Amerian History Month!

Buko Pie – Rezel Kealoha
Baked Turon – Lemons and Anchovies
Ginataang Bilo-Bilo – The Little Epicurean
Banana Cue – Six Snippets

More Filipino Merienda Snacks from the Archives

Bibinka: Filipino Coconut-Rice Cake
Ginataang Mais: Filipino Coconut Rice Pudding with Corn
Ginataang Bilo-Bilo
Rhubarb Empanadas

Taho: Filipino Silken Tofu with Sago (Tapioca) Pearls and Brown Sugar Syrup

Taho is a classic sweet treat in the Philippines made with silken tofu, sago or tapioca pearls, and a simple brown sugar syrup. Served warm, it's popular as a comforting breakfast or merienda (snack) any time of the day!

Course Breakfast, Snack
Cuisine Filipino
Keyword arnibal, Filipino, Philippines, sago, sago pearl, silken tofu, simple syrup, tapioca pearl, tapoica, tofu, vegan, vegetarian
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 4 people
Calories 462 kcal
Author Liren Baker

Ingredients

  • 16 oz silken tofu
  • 1 1/4 cups brown sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup tapioca or sago pearls see notes

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook the tapioca pearls according to your package instructions. This can be done in advance; just be sure to store the prepped pearls with some water or a little brown sugar syrup (next step).

  2. Combine the brown sugar, water, and vanilla in a small saucepan and place over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, stir to dissolve the sugar, and lower heat to a simmer. Continue simmering for about 2-4 minutes and remove from heat. This syrup, or arnibal, can also be made in advance.

  3. Place silken tofu in a parchment lined steamer. Steam for 10-15 minutes, or until heated through. Alternatively, you can microwave the tofu for about 2-5 minutes.

  4. To serve, scoop slices of warm silken tofu into a small cup. Top with tapioca or sago pearls. Pour hot brown sugar syrup (arnibal) on top. Serve immediately, while warm.

Recipe Notes

Sago pearls are traditionally used in taho, but can be substituted with tapioca pearls which are more readily available. Both can be found at your local Asian market. I personally prefer using quick cooking tapioca pearls which are easier and faster!

Nutrition Facts
Taho: Filipino Silken Tofu with Sago (Tapioca) Pearls and Brown Sugar Syrup
Amount Per Serving
Calories 462 Calories from Fat 27
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 3g 5%
Sodium 28mg 1%
Potassium 295mg 8%
Total Carbohydrates 104g 35%
Sugars 69g
Protein 5g 10%
Calcium 10%
Iron 11.2%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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