Hikari's Food/Japanophile and Other Interesting Stuff blog

Things to do with a large batch of kanten/agar: Mandarin and Ginger Gel

on September 12, 2012

I wasn’t sure what to call what I made. It’s not gelatin, and “jelly” brings up a mental image of grape toast spread. Anyone have an idea?

I also will be calling it the Japanese name “Kanten” for the remainder of this post. I’m a Biology major so the word Agar reminds me of petri dishes. (*>_< )

Kanten is great stuff. It’s made from seaweed, so it’s vegetarian. It’s easy to digest and technically has no sugar except for what is added. While a carbohydrate, apparently the agarose isn’t easily digestible. It melts at a high temperature, making it great for molding and it’s stable at room temperature. Think about that when you’re pondering a dessert for your lunch box! Considering it it also very filling, it can be used as a diet food.

Our House Guest has not yet acclimated to our climate and hasn’t been feeling well. A request for ginger tea and refusal to eat anything solid made me think of how Jell-O can be good for sick people.  Also, ginger is great for queasiness. Not having any gelatin, I remembered buying a box of presweetened kanten that I had intended to play with. I take my opportunities where I find them. I had not remembered that this box required 6 cups of water. That’s a LOT of dessert!

This is the brand I used to make the gel for this post.

After preparing the contents as per the instructions, I had several small bowls lined with canned mandarin slices. After filling those, the rest, about 3.5 cups, went in a large, square tupperware dish. To this I added about a third of a teaspoon of grated ginger and a squirt of store-brand Mango Mandarin “water enhancer” (Think MiO). After an overnight stint in the fridge, our guest tasted the ginger kanten and was able to eat a small bowlful. I had a bowl of the mandarin slice variety. The ginger helped our guest’s stomach settle quite a bit.

There’s plenty more where this came from!
The awesome color for the ginger cubes came from the “water enhancer”.
I just love my “orange”!

Overall, the flavor was very mild. Balancing the flavor of the ginger was tricky as I didn’t want it to be overpowering. The makers of Golden Coins must expect people to use sweetened flavors, hence the light sweetness. Normally I use the plain varieties of kanten (like Telephone brand) and sweeten to taste. One of these days I’ll need to play with the large bars/chunks, they’re supposed to provide a clearer product. My experiment was a success and we’ve all had several bowlfuls. I love serving it sliced into little squares, the apparently traditional way of serving kanten, unless you’re making awesomely cute desserts like this!

Aren’t these adorable? I’ve included the link to the flickr account so you can see more awesome wagashi!

These awesome treats are from the Food Librarian, link included.

Oh, the “orange” in my picture? that was a gift from the family I stayed with during my visit to Japan a few years ago. I figured it was perfect for mandarin slices in kanten! Something similar was originally served in it, but it had pieces of fresh orange.

A previous experiment with kanten involved coffee and matcha. That was also very delicious, especially mixed together.

This was my coffee and matcha kanten experiment, served in milk.

I think the next time cold/flu season rolls around, I’ll keep a container of ginger gel on hand!


2 responses to “Things to do with a large batch of kanten/agar: Mandarin and Ginger Gel

  1. happyuan says:

    Wonderful! You are a great cook. The box looks like Chinese stuff, but it IS kanten.

    • yeah, the first time I made it, I bought a Japanese box, but unless I go to Seattle or buy online, it has to come from other countries.
      I don’t mind, just don’t like saying agar… It reminds me of microbiology.

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