Agar and Kanten

  • Agar Powder

    What Are Agar (Agar Agar) And Kanten?

    Agar (or sometimes called agar agar) and Kanten (寒天) are a white and semi-translucent gelatinous substance, obtained from algae.  It is a great alternative to animal or chemical-based gelatin.

    It was first discovered in 1658 by Minoya Tarozaemon (美濃屋 太郎左衛門) in Japan (source).  The word “agar” comes from agar-agar, the Malay/Indonesian name for red algae.

    Although the word “kanten” is used as a Japanese translation of “agar”, Japanese consider agar and kanten a separate ingredient because they come from different algae.

    Agar is from Carrageenan, which is extracted from red edible seaweed (スギノリ・ツノマタ).  Kanten is made of Gelidiales, red edible seaweed (テングサ・オゴノリ).

    Agar is clear and has more soft smooth texture.  It is used to make all types of jellies, puddings, and custards.

    Kanten is semi-translucent and firmer with less jiggle.  It is used to make wagashi (Japanese confectionery) like yokan and anmitsu.

    Why Do We Use Agar/Katnten Over Gelatin?

    Agar/Kanten has several advantages over the traditional gelatin.

    • It’s a natural vegetable gelatin, which is approximately 80% fiber.  It’s suitable for vegetarian and vegan diets.
    • I has no taste, no odor, and semi-translucent.
    • It sets more firmly than gelatin and is able to set at room temperature.
    • Unlike gelatin, it can stay in jelly form at warmer temperature.
    • Great for dieting as it makes you feel full.

    Types Of Agar/Kanten And Where To Find It?

    There are 4 types:

    1. Agar/Kanten powder (粉寒天)
    2. Agar/Kanten stick (棒寒天)
    3. Kanten thread (糸寒天)
    4. Agar flakes

    You can find agar/kanten in Japanese grocery stores and most Asian grocery stores.  Kanten can be found at Mitsuwa or Marukai online stores (for US residents).

    How Much Agar/Kanten For 1 Cup (250 ml) Liquid?

    In order to set 1 cup (250 ml) of liquid, you will need:

    • Agar/Kanten powder = 1 tsp. (2 g)
    • Agar/Kanten stick = 1/2 stick (4 g)
    • Kanten thread = 12 threads (4 g)
    • Agar flakes = 1 Tbsp. (4 g)

    For firm texture, use 250 ml of water.  For soft, tofu-like texture, use 300 ml.

    Agar/Kanten Powder vs. Gelatin Powder Ratio

    In order to set 1 cup (250 ml) of liquid, you will need:

    1 tsp. agar/kanten powder = 1 tsp. powder gelatin

    Source: TheKitchn

    How To Use Agar/Kanten?

    To learn how to make agar/kanten jelly, click here.

    If you are using agar/kanten stick, you will need to rinse it carefully and break it into pieces to soak them in water for 30 minutes.  This will help dissolve agar/kanten faster.  Squeeze the water out from the pieces and they are ready to use.

    Agar vs. Gelatin Dissolution/Coagulation Temperature

    Agar/Kanten

    Dissolution Temp: 194 F (90 C)
    Coagulation/Solidifying Temp: 86-122 F (30-50 C) (at room temperature)
    Dissolution Temp (after solidifying): 140-158 F (60-70 C) (doesn’t melt at room temperature)

    Gelatin

    Dissolution Temp: 122-140 F (50-60 C)
    Coagulation/Solidifying Temp: 68 F (20 C) (in fridge)
    Dissolution Temp (after solidifying): 77 F (25 C) (easily melt in summer time)

    Source: Cuoca

    Kanten (Agar) Recipe

    Mizu Yokan (Red Bean Jelly) | Easy Japanese Recipes at JustOneCookbook.com

    Mizu Yokan

    Fruit Jelly | Easy Japanese Recipes at JustOneCookbook.com

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