Sago at Gulaman with sago pearls, grass jelly, and brown sugar syrup is a tropical cooler you’ll love year-round. It’s refreshing and delicious as it is fun to eat!
It’s been a while since we had a beverage recipe here on the blog, so I thought I’ll feature one of the most iconic Filipino refreshments, Sago’t Gulaman.
I first posted this samalamig way back in 2014, but I am updating it today with a couple of tips my aunt from the Philippines taught me how to make it tastier and easily.
The three components
- Simple syrup– sweetens the drink; made of equal parts water and brown sugar
- Sago– edible starch from the pith of tropical palm trees. You can buy dry pearls and cook at home or ones already cooked and ready for use sold in stores or wet markets
- Gulaman– make it from scratch or use grass jelly to simplify the process
How to Make Gulaman Syrup
- To make the syrup, combine the sugar and water in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved and the mixture is clear and no longer cloudy.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.
- In a large pitcher, combine 4 cups of cold water (or to taste) and the syrup.
- Stir in a teaspoon or so banana essence or vanilla extract to enhance flavor and aroma.
- For a deeper color, make sure to use dark brown sugar. For a more authentic taste, you can substitute about 8 ounces of panutsa for brown sugar.
The recipe card below has detailed instructions on making this refreshing cooler from scratch, and as you can see, it takes a few steps to pull together. Admittedly, it can be a bit complicated to prepare for daily enjoyment.
- The tip my aunt taught me, aside from adding banana essence to the brown sugar syrup, is to use grass jelly! This black gulaman is available at most Asian supermarkets and inexpensive at about $3 for a large 19-ounce can. Not only does it have the perfect jiggly consistency, but it also matches the amber color of the drink well.
- You can also use ready-to-use sago sold at most Filipino and Asian grocers. With these two key ingredients ready with zero effort, all you need to do is a 5-minute arnibal syrup!
How to store
- For best results, store the gulaman and sago in different containers with a lid and the syrup in a pitcher.
- Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
How to serve
- To serve, spoon gulaman and sago into a tall glass. Add ice and top off with the chilled gulaman syrup. Enjoy chilled or over ice on its own or with your favorite midday snack!
- I tend to make my brown sugar syrup very sweet as the added ice will dilute the mixture. If you’re skipping the ice, adjust the taste by adding more cold water as needed.
Sago at Gulaman
- cooked sago
- gulaman, cut into cubes
- arnibal syrup
- 4 cups cold water
- 1 teaspoon banana essence or vanilla extract
- crushed ice
For the Sago
- 4 ounces sago
For the Gulaman
- 1 bar (.35 ounce) gulaman
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1/2 cup sugar
For the Syrup using Panutsa
- 8 ounces panutsa
- 1 cup water
For the Syrup using Brown Sugar
- 1 cup dark brown sugar
- 1 cup water
To Make the Sago
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.
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 5 minutes, remove from heat, rinse well and drain.
In the pot, add enough cold water to cover sago and again, bring to a gentle boil for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, rinse well and drain. Repeat the process until sago pearls are tender but chewy and translucent with no white in the center. Rinse well and allow to cool.
To Make the Gulaman
In a pot, shred agar agar and soak in 1 1/2 cups water for about 30 to 40 minutes.
Over medium heat, bring to a boil and cook, stirring regularly, until agar melts.
Add sugar and stir to dissolve. Continue to cook for about 10 to 15 minutes or until agar agar is completely melted.
Remove from heat. Pour into a flat dish and allow to cool until agar agar is set and hardened. Cut into 1/2-inch cubes.
To Make Arnibal Syrup with Panutsa
In a saucepan, combine the panutsa and water and cook, stirring occasionally, until completely dissolved.
In a fine mesh sieve, strain syrup to rid of any impurities and return back in the saucepan. Continue to cook until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.
To Make Arnibal Syrup with Brown Sugar
In a saucepan, combine water and sugar. Over medium heat, bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, until sugar is dissolved and liquid is clear and no longer cloudy.
Remove from heat until completely cooled.
To Make Sago Gulaman Drink
In a large pitcher, combine 4 cups of cold water and the arnibal syrup. Add banana essence or vanilla extract to taste. Stir well.
In large glasses, add ice, cooked sago, and cubed gulaman. Add brown sugar liquid