Japanese Cooking and Jellying
Japan food recipes that require jellying are far more extensive than what you will find in the West. Not only does Japanese food culture use jellying for desserts, which are usually visually stunning and sweet (check out this raindrop cake), but jellying gives substance to savory recipes as well. Especially during the summertime – as jelly dishes have cooling properties – it is common to see seasonal ingredients turned into jellied meals and snacks. Take a look at this summer veggie tofu gelee.
Traditional Japanese food recipes often call for agar, a different but similar jelling agent made from algae, instead of kanten. Both agar and kanten are healthy vegetarian alternatives to gelatin, which is commonly used in the West and made from animal parts. In fact, kanten enjoys some fame, being a kind of health food or “superfood” in Japan. It contains almost no calories but adds filling substance to any recipe.
- Kanten needs to melt completely, but you can’t boil milk. You need to warm milk over low heat for a while to melt kanten powder. This requires delicate attention.
- Add the sugar after kanten melts to keep the consistency smooth.
- After melting the kanten, wait a while before adding strawberry puree to avoid curdling. Once the liquid cools down a bit, it will be easier to mix. Keep stirring the milk while you wait, as you don’t want the liquid to set.
- Make sure the strawberry puree isn’t too cold. Kanten melts at 194 degrees Fahrenheit but can start to set at about 122 degrees Fahrenheit. If the strawberry puree is too cold when added, it might make the milk curdle.
Strawberry Milk Kanten
- 6 Strawberries
- 1 cup Milk
- 2 Tbsp Sugar
- 1 bag (4g) Kanten Powder
- Whip Cream, for decoration
- Mint Leaf, for decoration
- Remove stems of strawberry and puree with blender.
- Add the kanten powder, milk, and sugar in a small pot and mix well.
- Turn on the heat to low while mixing, and once it starts boiling, turn the heat off. Make sure not to bring to full boil.
- Add strawberry puree into the milk mixture and mix well.
- Using strainer, pour strawberry mixture into a container. Once cooled down, place it in the fridge for about 5 hours.
- Take out from the fridge and cut it in quarter. Decorate with whip cream and mint and enjoy!