I had decided to learn about the cuisines of the Far East as a New Year resolution; after all, we share a continent!
I had used agar-agar a bit as a vegan substitute to gelatin and made some jam and puddings with it. I thought that was all that I could get out of it: I was so wrong!
First of all, what is agar-agar, aka kanten?
Agar-agar is a powder extracted from a sea algea found in the seas near Japan and China.
Where does one find it?
One finds it in any Asian store (Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, Korean, Filippino, etc); also can be found online and at some health food stores (don’t buy the one that is in flakes, it is hard to use and overpriced). In some countries, it is even available at pharmacies.
How much does it cost?
It is not expensive; a small packet runs about US $1.00. (Keep in mind that one serving of agar-agar to gel a pudding for 4 people is 2 grams or a teaspoon).
What is so special about agar-agar and why should I care?
- It is a natural product (extracted from a sea algea)
- It is much easier to use and gels liquids much faster than regular gelatin (it is nine times more potent than gelatin). It will gel a liquid in one hour or so.
- Agar-agar is made up (at 80%) of fibers. These fibers will absorb liquid in your stomach and make you feel full, thus reducing your appetite: It is a natural appetite suppressant.
- Agar-agar relieves constipation as it is a natural laxative.
- Agar-agar has been shown to reduce the level of cholesterol in the blood
- Agar-agar has also been shown to control blood sugar, helping folks with Type 2 Diabetes.
- Agar-agar helps dieters lose weight in a natural and effortless way.
- Agar-agar has no smell or taste and no calories.
- Agar-Agar can be used in drinks, puddings, soups, pasta, flans, yogurt-based desserts, cheesecakes, natural candy, etc.
A sample use of agar-agar:
For your morning coffee or tea:
Boil water. Prepare your usual drink (tea, coffee, whatever). Pour 1/2 teaspoon (1 g.) of agar-agar in the boiling liquid. Mix well to dissolve and drink (rather fast, because the agar-agar will gel when the liquid cools off).
Guess what? Japanese women swear by it; they drink a glass of beverage spiked with agar-agar before their meals to lose a few pounds painlessly!
To read more on agar-agar:
List of articles, click here.
To buy agar-agar online, click here
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