Recipe: Sago Dumpling (Nyonya Style)

Sago Dumpling (Nyonya Style)

By Margarita Lee

Margarita Lee


  • 400g Sago
  • 3 tbsp Fried shallot oil
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Pepper 
  • 200ml Water 

Blue colouring for the dumpling:

  • 1 tbsp Dried blue pea flower
  • 100ml Hot water
  • A few drops of lemon juice (optional)

Method for preparing the sago:

  1. Rinse the sago with boiling water and drain, then add shallot oil, salt and pepper. Set aside.
  2. Keep 1/3 of the sago in a separate bowl. To the bigger portion, gradually add in the strained blue pea flower and mix well. Set aside for 30 minutes.
  3. Add 200ml of water gradually to the white sago, mix well and set aside for 30 minutes.


Filling ingredients:

  • 500g Pork belly (steamed and cut into small dice)
  • 8 Dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in warm water
  • 100ml Cooking oil
  • 8 Shallots (peeled and finely sliced)
  • 5 Garlic (peeled and finely chopped)
  • 2 tbsp Coriander 
  • 1/2 Peppercorn  
  • 1 tsp Kencur root powder (sa keong 沙姜)
  • 120g Candied winter melon


  • 1tbsp Dark soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp Soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp Soya bean paste 
  • 1 tbsp Oyster sauce 
  • Sugar and salt to taste

Method for the filling:

  1. Dry roast the coriander seeds and peppercorn for 3-5 minutes. Grind into powder, keep aside for later use.
  2. Soak mushrooms in hot water until they are soft and plump. Cut into small dice. 
  3. Cut the candied winter melon into small dice.
  4. Steam the pork belly for 15 minutes and leave it to cool. Keep the liquid for later use. 
  5. Cut the pork belly into small dice. 
  6. Preheat a large skillet or wok. Add cooking oil, then add shallots and stir fry until crispy or golden brown. Dish out the shallots and dish out 3 tablespoons of shallot oil.
  7. In the same wok, fry garlic until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add kencur root powder, roasted coriander and peppercorn powder, then stir fry for another minute. Add the steamed pork, mushrooms and seasonings. Stir well to mix, add the liquid from steaming. Simmer over low heat for 10 minutes while stirring occasionally. Add some water if needed. Add in the candied winter melon and crispy fried shallots, stir well. 
  8. Add salt and sugar to taste. Remove from heat and transfer filling into a bowl. Set aside to cool.


Photo by Margarita Lee

Wrapping the Dumplings

  • 40-50 pieces bamboo leaves
  • 25 pieces of 1 square inch of pandan leaf
  • Kitchen string 


  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, discard the water and leave to cool. 
  3. Wipe each bamboo leaf, front and back with a clean kitchen towel.
  4. Place two bamboo leaves on top of each other with the smooth side up and fold the top end diagonally into a cup shape to form a cone.
  5. Scoop in 1 tablespoon of the blue sago. Use the back of the spoon to pack it in to create an indentation in the middle. Add in 1 tablespoon of the filling. Top with the white sago and a piece of pandan leaf.
  6. Fold the top of the leaves over the sago and secure with kitchen string. Repeat with the rest of the dumplings.
  7. Add 1 tablespoon of salt in a large pot of boiling water, then boil sago dumplings over medium heat for 30 minutes. Allow the dumpling to sit for a further 15 minutes before removing from the pot. 
  8. Drain and keep the sago dumplings at room temperature before storing in the fridge.
  9. To serve, re-steam or microwave for 1 minute.
  10. These dumplings can be kept in the fridge for 5 days or frozen for months.


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


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