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A kinder, gentler jelly, Japanese kanten is horse-hoof free! Made from kelp extracts, this powdered version of agar agar is a fun way to jellify any liquid of your choice, and it’s actually calorie-free when prepared without sugar. Kanten can be prepared a day or two in advance, so it’s great for dinner parties. Cut it into shapes, pour it into fancy stemware, or cut it into cubes and use it as a fun textural element of another dessert. Sure, it may be less jiggly than Jell-O, but it’s totally flexible in the kitchen.

Kanten jelly made with orange juice, poured into a hollowed orange, then cut into orange "slices"

Ingredients:

  • 1 x 4g packet of kanten powder
  • 2 cups water, juice, tea, or coffee, or 1 ¾ cup milk + 1/3 cup water
  • ¼ cup sugar (omit for juice jellies)

Method:

  1. Prepare your mould. Clean and dry the mould of your choice. Test the volume of your mould to see if you need to make a double (or triple!) batch to fill it.
    • a clean baking pan (for cutting into cubes or with a cookie cutter)
    • a martini, champagne, or wine glass
    • an ice cube tray
    • hollowed out oranges, held upright on a muffin tin or egg carton
  2. Mix, boil, and sweeten. Mix the liquid and kanten powder in a small saucepan, and whisk constantly as you bring it to a boil over medium-high heat. Once at a boil, continue to boil and stir for a further 2 minutes. Add the sugar (if necessary) and whisk until dissolved.
  3. Cool & Chill. Pour into the mould of your choice. Once cooled to room temperature, put in the fridge and chill until stiffened. This usually takes about 15 -20 minutes, depending on the depth of the mould.
  4. Cut. To cut orange slices, use a very sharp knife, but if you’re cutting cubes use a dull one (+ a ruler) so as not to scratch your bakeware. Remove cubes carefully with a flat spatula to avoid crushing them.
  5. Create.Here are just a few ideas to get you started.
    • Coffee kanten + condensed milk = one solid latte
    • Plain (water) kanten + fruit salad + yude azuki (boiled red beans) + shiratama dumplings (see next recipe) = Anmitsu
    • Mango juice kanten + cookie cutter = love
    • Orange juice kanten + hollowed out oranges = pulp-free orange slices

 Reader ParticipATE-tion:

Check out what readers have made at a FEEDback potluck.

Tassie's orange kanten and chocolate tea kanten with condensed milk drizzle - Photo credit: Robert Shaer (rob.shaer@gmail.com)

The following was made by UBC’s Japanese Home Cooking Class

Anmitsu - kanten cubes with fruit salad and sweet red beans