Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen’s sago, meringue, hibiscus and berries

South Africa’s France-based Michelin-starred chef has a brand new tv show called JAN (find it on VIA – DStv 147). To celebrate, we can recommend this glorious sago dish, with a modern twist of hibiscus. Can't find hibiscus? It's also delicious with cocoa powder.


60g egg whites
120g castor sugar
1kg frozen or fresh blue berries
100g castor sugar
Juice of 3 lemons
2 vanilla pods seeds
1/2 cup tapioca or sago pearls
3 cups whole milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Full cream vanilla bean ice cream, slightly softened
Dried Hibiscus powder or alternate with cocoa powder
Heavy cream
Vanilla paste


Combine the egg whites and castor sugar in a stand mixer bowl. Place the bowl over a bain-marie in a sauce pan. Whip using a whisk until hot and all the sugar has dissolved. Connect the bowl with the standing mixer and beat at maximum speed until light and fluffy.

Prepare a silicon baking sheet with cook spray and a dusting of corn flour. Tap off the extra corn flour and use a medium-sized cookie cutter to mark each circle clearly where to pipe.

Use a plain piping nozzle and pipe the meringue in domes the size of the small palm when made into a closed hand. The size should be big enough to fill it with the filling of sago, berry compote and ice cream. (So in other words quite high, but not too high.) Once they are piped, rest the meringues for 30 min before baking at 80 degrees for 2 hours. Remove and cool down.

Very carefully turn the meringue around and, using a sharp knife point, remove the bottom of the meringue, hollowing out the inside and making space for the filling. Carefully place them back on the tray and reserve until needed.

For the compote:

Mix half the berries and the full amount of sugar in a large pot and slowly poach the berries until tangy and thick. Add the vanilla seeds and lemon juice and continue to simmer until you reach the consistency of a compote or jam. Add the remaining berries, and simmer for a further 10 minutes on low heat. Place aside to cool down.

For the rest of the filling and serving:

Combine tapioca, milk, and salt in a pan on medium high heat. Stir while bringing to a simmer. Lower the heat and cook uncovered, at the lowest possible heat, adding sugar gradually, until the tapioca pearls have plumped up and thickened. Depending on the type or brand of tapioca you are using and if you've presoaked the tapioca as some brands call for, this could take anywhere from 5 minutes to 45 minutes of cooking at a very low temperature. Stir occasionally so that the tapioca doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan.

Beat eggs in a separate bowl. Mix in some of the hot tapioca very slowly to equalize the temperature of the two mixtures (to avoid curdling).
Return eggs to the pan with the tapioca. Increase the heat to medium and stir for several minutes until you get a thick pudding consistency. Do not let the mixture boil or the tapioca egg custard will curdle. Cool for 15 minutes. Stir in the vanilla, and cool down.

To serve:

Hold the meringue upside down in your hand. Start filling it with a tablespoon of ice cream, followed by the berry compote and then the sago pudding. Use a little sago as a glue to secure the meringue on the plate. Place the meringue carefully down, so that the sago does not show. Mix the cream and vanilla paste to your liking and pour over the meringue. Dust with dried hibiscus powder or sifted cocoa powder, using a small tea sift.

Recipe by Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen. Catch JAN, the chefs brand new tv show on VIA (DStv 147).

Leave a comment

Promoted Restaurants