Recipe: Sago Alkaline Dumpling

Dragon Boat Festival is just around the corner, and what better way to celebrate than to try making some dumplings yourself? Margarita is here with a short line-up of dumpling recipes using sago, perfect for those who struggle to digest glutinous rice but would still like to indulge.

Sago Alkaline Dumpling ( 沙谷碱水粽) 

By Margarita Lee

Margarita Lee


  • 200g Sago pearls
  • 250ml Water
  • 5ml Lye water (1 tsp alkaline water) 
  • 20ml Oil


  1. In a large basin, soak the bamboo leaves for a few hours or overnight. Place a weight on the leaves to make sure they are all submerged.
  2. In a large pot, boil the bamboo leaves for 5-10 minutes, then discard the water and leave to cool. 
  3. Wipe each bamboo leaf, front and back, with a clean kitchen towel. Pat dry and grease the smooth side with some oil. Set aside. 
  4. Rinse the sago with boiling water, drain, then add oil and set aside.
  5. In a large bowl, combine the water and lye water, stir well.
  6. Pour the liquid mixture gradually into the sago and stir until well combined. Soak for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.
  7. Place two bamboo leaves on top of each other and fold the top ends diagonally into a cup shape to form a cone.
  8. Fill the bamboo leaves with sago until 3/4 full. Firmly fold the bamboo leaves down. Tuck the remaining flap down and secure firmly with a piece of kitchen twine. 
  9. Boil the dumpling in a large pot over medium heat for 30 minutes. Allow the dumpling to sit for a further 15 minutes before removing from the pot. 
  10. Chill the dumpling in the fridge until completely cool. Serve with coconut palm sugar syrup or sugar. You can keep the dumpling in the fridge for up to 3 to 5 days.
Photo by Margarita Lee

Coconut Palm Sugar Syrup 


  • 300g Pure palm sugar, roughly chopped
  • 150ml Coconut milk
  • 1 tsp Salt 
  • 3-4 Pandan leaves 


  1. Place the palm sugar and coconut milk in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Cook on medium heat for 10 minutes until the palm sugar has melted. 
  2. Stir to ensure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.
  3. Add one or two tablespoons of water if the syrup is too thick. Add salt to taste.
  4. Sieve syrup into a bowl to remove lumps and impurities.
  5. Transfer syrup into a vessel and store in the fridge.

Check out more of Margarita’s recipes on her FB @ Umummy Food


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See Foon

SeeFoon Chan-Koppen has been writing a food column called Musings on Food in the Ipoh Echo since 2009. It is widely read both in print as well as online which receives more than 1 million hits a month. Her forte is in communications, having honed her skills after graduating from the University of Singapore where she worked for the Straits Times Group and was a food critic for the New Nation. Her knowledge of food and cooking come from more than 30 years in the hotel industry based in Singapore, Tokyo, Hong Kong and subsequently Kuala Lumpur. During this time, she has travelled all over the world and eaten at the best and worst restaurants. She is totally intimate with the subtleties and nuances of most cuisines of the world having been involved in opening over 50 hotels throughout the Asia/Pacific region and China where she helped to conceptualize Food and Beverage themes and critiqued on food quality. SeeFoon calls herself a global citizen and now chooses the serenity and friendliness of Ipoh to the bright lights of the many cities she has lived in. She also loves the food in Ipoh and is passionate about telling the world about it.

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