You know how they say ‘Aim for the sky, if you fail at least you will fall among the stars‘? Don’t listen to that
fluff advice… we did, and we fell absolutely flat on our faces. Or more accurately, into the powdery clumpy mess that could not be called bubble tea by any stretch of the imagination.
Yes, isn’t this post a giant ray of sunshine?
All of our bubble trouble began years ago when we stumbled upon a curious little place called Bubbles & Boba. At first, it was just a little flirtation. Walking by their kiosk, we would pick up a sample and chew on our drink curiously, not quite sure if we were ready for a glass full of that quirky texture. Every sip was a brain-freeze inducing icy smoothie, punctuated with what can be best described as chewy, jelly-like blobs (appropriately called boba).
A couple of trips later, we would try their Honeydew smoothie, the refreshing taste of which would finally give us the courage to order our own glass full of the stuff, heralding the beginning of a (so far) lifelong addiction. And a steady hole in our wallet (having a 30dhs smoothie every other day sneakily adds up). Which brought us to the only logical conclusion. We have to make this at home.
And for the next two years we searched and searched for these tiny little starchy balls of happiness. We popped into random Asian grocery stores. Scavenged around the labyrinth of quirkiness that is Dragon Mart. Tried to bribe the guys at Bubbles & Boba to sell us a stash. We even spent an entire vacation summer in Canada locating the Asian communities and seeing if they know someone who knows someone. Addicted seems like a mild description of our sorry state right?
So imagine our utter surprise and delight when after all those years, when we had all but given up, life, in one of it’s curious ways, led us straight to it. The moment we stopped actively searching for it, it just showed up one day on the shelves of one of our regular stores. Cooked (although the jar looked a little gross) and uncooked versions sat there on the shelf as if they had been here all along, and our wild goose chase had just been a figment of the imagination.
Excitedly, we picked up the uncooked tapioca packet. Got home and did a quick google search on how to cook it. Although there were several methods, they all seemed pretty similar. You cook it like pasta, except this would take between 15-30 minutes to be cooked through. No problem.
Just a little note here, there are some sites which will tell you to pre-soak your tapioca pearls. If you want to save yourself some time and bring forward the inevitable kitchen disaster, do this. You will end up with a big mushy mess within a couple of minutes.
So we began to cook. First we brought the water to a boil in a pan, and added the tapioca pearls. Letting it cook on medium heat, this is what they looked like 10 minutes in.
And 20 minutes in.
Aaaaand 30 minutes in. By all accounts they should have been cooked through by now, and almost completely transparent.
The stubborn bobas continued their mutiny 45 minutes in. We couldn’t believe it. We could’ve baked a cake (or two) in that much time. Cooked an entire chicken. Made pans full of pasta. All in less time than it took to cook 2-3 tablespoons full of tapioca!
At this point we were so sure we were overcooking it (they had soaked up water about ten times their volume), that we turned off the heat. But they were too NOT transparent, so we let them sit there for a few minutes. After trying a couple, they seemed to be almost cooked through, so we drained the excess water and let it cool, hoping that they would finish cooking slowly while we prepared the tea.
Preparation of tea: Take something fancy like a mason jar. Add a couple of heaped tbsp of (what you hope are) cooked tapioca pearls.Take one chilled bottle of flavored tea, open cap and pour in.
And then let your taste buds be horrified as the almost cooked boba turns into firm, powdery blobs as they’re mixed with the cold tea.
Take a smaller straw and drink up the nice tea from the folks at Berry White (available at Lulu, Spinneys & Al Maya), then drive down to Dubai Mall and drown your bubble troubles in some actual bubble tea, until realization hits you that you have wasted entire days’ worth of time in hunting down tapioca pearls, and all for some floury little beasts from the depths of boba hell.
So that was supposed to be the conclusion. But while writing this post, we stumbled upon brown tapioca pearls. And we’re taking that as a sign from the universe that we shouldn’t give up yet. We will now be cooking both the brown and white tapioca, and will share results (hopefully not as a blooper this time!) as well as where to find them, next week.
Got any bloopers to share? A funny (to everybody else except you) kitchen disaster? We’d be happy to share your stories. Let us know if you’d like to share the misery by dropping us an email.