Growing up, tapioca pudding was the only dessert my dad had up his sleeve, and lucky for me, it was always delicious. On Sunday nights after dinner he’d disappear into the kitchen for a while and return with steaming bowls of vanilla-flecked pudding for my brothers and me. Little did we know how easy it was to make. Simply soak tapioca pearls in milk, then gently simmer the mixture with egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla seeds until it’s thick, with soft but pleasantly chewy tapioca bits.
What to buy: Pearl tapioca is made by passing moistened cassava starch through a strainer to create spheres in a wide range of sizes, with the small pearls being the most popular. Do not confuse them with instant tapioca pearls, which have been cracked or flaked, then cooked and dried—instant will not yield the same results. You can find pearl tapioca in the baking or ethnic aisle of most well-stocked grocery stores.