Agar-Agar is a flavorless gelling agent, made from seaweed. Agar-Agar is a great substitute for gelatin especially for vegetarians. Unlike gelatin, agar-agar does not contain animal byproducts, also it will stay solid at room temperature. Agar-agar has a stiffer consistency than gelatin, but can be prepared smoother. It can be used to make all sorts of interesting meals, savory and sweet. Agar-agar has gained popularity over the years to help with dieting. It contains no calories and is high in dietary fiber. If eaten before your main meal, it will fill you up so you will be inclined to eat smaller portions.
Used in many Asian desserts. Try gelling almost anything, tea, coffee, fruit smoothies, yogurt, or even pureed cottage cheese. See what kind of fun concoction you can come up with, maybe you'll love it. Who ever said Jello was only for children and the elderly!
Can be bought at many Asian markets and sometimes your at your local grocer. Sold powdered, flaked, crinkled strands or in a block. The powdered form being the easiest to use in the kitchen because it dissolves in water easily. Set 2 cups of liquid using 2 teaspoons powder, 2 Tablespoons flakes or 1 bar, broken up into pieces. Bring water and agar-agar to a boil, stirring for 2 minutes then add what ever flavoring you would like. Highly acidic ingredients may need extra agar-agar to set, such as lemons, strawberries and things containing vinegar. Ingredients high in enzymes such as pineapple, mangoes or papaya will need to be cooked before agar-agar is added because the enzymes will break down the agar-agar inhibiting the gelling process. If you want to have a softer outcome try playing with using a high liquid ratio.
Store in an airtight container in a cool dry place, will keep indefinitely.
Use as a gelatin substitute using equal parts.
Agar-agar is most commonly used in science. Agar-agar is the gelatinous substance used in petri dishes for microbiological studies. Medicinally, it is known to take radioactive and toxic material out of the body, helps with digestion, and can aid in healing hemorrhoids.
I have used Agar Agar in trying to copy a Thai desert recipe. It had sweet red beans, topped with a coconut cream gelatin, and sliced into squares. I reduced coconut cream and sugar and mixed the Agar Agar and spread it on the beans. Once chilled it can be sliced, and even heated lightly. Yum!
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