How to use Agar-agar in Cantonese dessert


Published: August 31, 2019

Don’t know why but there are such moments, smell, or taste that remind me the old time, those happiest days when there hadn’t been any serious responsibility on me. I hadn’t had agar-agar jelly for like 20 years till one day, I was buying eggs at a small grocery store in my local farmer’s market and the shop owner told me he had a dream of having scrambled egg agar-agar jelly the night before. When I was little, parents would make me agar-agar jellies, in those days when there were not many choices of snacks and sweets in the market. Agar-agar jelly was a small joy of a kid after finishing a long day in school.

Agar-agar is a natural vegetable gelatin made from red algae, a seaweed, suitable for vegetarian. Cantonese, or some of the other Asians believe it can eliminate the ‘heat’ in the body so it’s good to have agar dessert in summertime. It’s usually in white and translucent stripes and usually sold in a package. Its usage is similar to gelatin. Here are 2 tips in making jelly with it.
1. The proportion is 1g agar-agar with 100ml liquid;
2. If there are solid ingredients, such as fruit chunks, or beans, they would sink at the bottom when the liquid is hot. Cool it down for a while and the liquid would turn thicker and half-set, stir so that the solid ingredients can separate evenly.

The following two recipes are the very old-fashioned jellies I had as a kid. One is with scrambled egg, for a more textured taste, I add a little ginger. Another one is with canned pineapple, also, a tiny bit of sweetened osmanthus for better decoration. There are many other options such as coconut milk, green beans, red beans, fruits, or coffee.

Ingredients –
Rock sugar
Canned pineapple
Sweetened osmanthus

dry agar-agar stripes

simple ingredients for 2 jelly recipes

How to do –
1. Soak the agar stipes in water till soft;

2. Measure water or liquid with the mould or container for serving the jelly, I need 350ml of water so 3.5g of agar is enough. In a pot, put in water, agar, 20g of rock sugar, 1/2 tsp of ginger juice and a little ginger flakes. Bring to boil and stir till the agar dissolve completely;

3. One egg whisked, put in the boiling liquid mixture then heat off immediately. Set aside;

4. In another pot, in the same way, water, agar, sweet pineapple water in the can, remember 1g agar with 100ml liquid, boil till agar dissolve, set aside also;

5. Wait for a while till the liquid turn thicker, stir so that the egg separate evenly, then pour in glasses. Also decorate with pineapple and osmanthus, the agar liquid is half-set so they won’t sink;

6. Cool in fridge and taste even better. Jelly made with agar can be taken off from the mould more easily than that made with gelatin.

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