Guest Author - Chidori Phillips
Kanten is flavored in many ways but this version is from a Mrs. Roichi Obata who contributed her recipe to an old Japanese Foods cookbook, printed back in 1951, by Niji-no-Kai. I thought the cinnamon lends a nice Christmas flavor so I would share it with you during the holiday season. This original recipe does not mention whether to cook the kanten over low or medium heat so use your best judgment.
2 sticks white (shiro) or red (aka) kanten (agar-agar)
4 cups water
1 cup sugar
1 pinch salt
¼ tsp. gourmet powder (this is ajinomoto or MSG) optional
2 or 3 drop cinnamon extract
few drops of red or green food coloring
Wash kanten and soak in water for a half hour. Bring to a boil and cook until kanten is dissolved. Add sugar, salt, gourmet powder, and continue cooking. When sugar is dissolved, add flavoring and coloring. Remove from heat and strain into a loaf pan. When it hardens, cut into oblong strips or slices. (With double recipe, strain into square 8 x 8-inch or oblong 8-inch x10-inch cake pan.)
Agar-agar is a gelatinous substance that comes from seaweed. It has many commercial uses in food production because of its excellent gelling qualities. Unlike other gelatin, agar-agar does not require refrigeration in order to set. Almost 80 percent fiber, agar-agar can help regulate the digestive system and aid weight control (satiety).
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