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    You are in: Home / Community Forums / Asian Cooking / Kanten Foods (aka agar agar)
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    Kanten Foods (aka agar agar)

    Fri Oct 12, 2012 12:26 am Groupie
    We've had questions regarding kanten and I thought it might be fun to talk about kanten and how it is used in Asian cooking. I am familiar with kanten in Japanese cooking and use it often. But, for other Asian culinary uses, I am not that familiar unfortunately and love to hear from people who may use it or know about it.

    Unlike gelatin which is animal based, kanten is plant based. And unlike gelatin which needs refrigeration for setting up, kanten does not. It is refrigerated once set in modern times though.

    So let's see were kanten comes from. It comes from seaweed called tengusa which translates to heavenly grass and looks like this

    After harvest and sun dried, looks like this:

    It is then boiled, strained and set in forms. At first it is reddish in appearance but once it sets, the color turns white:

    Early winter mornings are ideal time for kanten to be divided and put into cylinders to excude into long strips like this:

    It is then dried for 7-10 days:

    To keep it's white transparent color it is covered with plastic sheet during rain or snow:

    Once completely dried the white transparent strands which is now kanten looks nothing like the reddish seaweed. This is the natural form of kanten:

    There are now 3 different kanten forms. In rectangular blocks, shreds, and in powdered forms. I'll write about them next.

    Last edited by Rinshinomori on Fri Oct 12, 2012 6:58 pm, edited 1 time in total
    Fri Oct 12, 2012 6:56 pm Groupie
    There are now 3 types of kanten available. Orginally, there was only one. It was formed into rectangular blocks like this. It is normally broken into pieces and soaked in water overnight for best results. It is then boiled and it dissolves just like gelatin. It is then used much like gelatin but better because no refrigeration was needed to set.

    Next form is shredded kanten or thread kanten. Basically, it's the block kanten which was made into threads so you did not have to break the blocks by hand. It makes for easier preparation. The weight is equivalent to the first style. This also needs to be soaked in cold water and later boiled to dissolve.

    Lately this style is sometimes used without boiling as an alternative for noodles, rice noodles, or bean noodles in soups, nabe/hotpot, and salads.

    The third style is kanten powder form much like what you would find in gelatin packets.

    The next post will be about types of desserts and food made using them and if you have any that you like using kanten or know about them, please share here with us.
    Tue Oct 30, 2012 6:27 pm Groupie
    wave.gif sorry I've not followed up with recipes using kanten/agar agar - got a little sidelined. I'll try to get some interesting foods posted here later this week. icon_biggrin.gif icon_biggrin.gif
    Wed Oct 31, 2012 10:54 am
    Forum Host
    This is very interesting - I've only ever seen the kanten in blocks, but I've also never actively looked for the other forms.
    Leggy Peggy
    Wed Oct 31, 2012 3:29 pm Groupie
    Thanks for posting this, Rinshinomori!
    I hope to use kanten when I'm home from my travels.
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