Today I wanted to test the possibility of toasting tapioca pearls before cooking them to see if the flavor or texture would change once cooked. I am a big fan of tapioca in pearl form as well as its uses as a starch (and the many variations of this starch).
I will never find out, because as the pearls started to get hot, they did not toast. The popped. They did so in the exact same way as popcorn kernels would. I switched gears then and completely lost interest in toasting tapioca pearls. I mean, come on... tapioca popcorn! So then I treated it as such, and lightly oiled a pan, put a fresh amount of small pearls over high heat and the result was even better than the first round as you can see from the picture.
The flavor is practically non-existent, but the texture is crunchy and very similar to popcorn. A little salt and you're set.