Wednesday, September 1st, 2010
Kanten (agar) is a natural gelatinous ingredient used most commonly to make desserts. It's a great alternative to gelatin, particularly for vegetarians. The texture isn't as gelatinous as gelatin so people who like the consistency of jello may not like kanten, but I think it has an interesting texture and I actually like it a lot.
Also see Wagashi Maniac's webpage
on Kanten. There is an in depth explanation of kanten in all it's forms. The website has a google translation button that translates the text to English. There are also a lot of nice photos of the different types of kanten.
Kanten for Dieters
Several years ago it was almost impossible to find kanten in grocery stores in Japan due to a kanten diet frenzy. I think there was a tv show that discussed the weight loss benefits of kanten which led to a huge spike in demand. My aunt was somehow able to secure a few boxes through a supplier to get all the kanten she needed to run the course of the phase, but my mom caught on a little late and complained about not being able to find any kanten during this time. The reason kanten was so popular for weight loss is because it is full of fiber and triples in volume after ingested, both giving one the sensation of being full.* The idea is that you eat some kanten before you have your regular meal so that you don't eat as much because you will get full faster. Other people also incorporated kanten into their regular meals such as adding it into soups or noodle dishes. You can add it to virtually anything since kanten doesn't have much flavor and you'll add volume to the dish and eat less of what you would normally eat. If you want to participate in the kanten diet, try incorporating it into your everyday meals. I found this video on youtube about a women who lost 11kg in 29 days mixing kanten into her soba, soups and mabodofu. YouTube
. I'll be using it in a dessert in my next post but feel free to get creative.
Unprocessed natural Kanten often comes in rectangular bars like this. It looks like plastic wrap.