Updated: October 31, 2017
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Tokoroten: A Vegan Japanese Jelly Noodle Summer Dessert And How To Make It!

There is an overwhelming number of foods you can try in Japan. It varies by region and by season, so it's like diving into a deep, delicious ocean of novelty! Yum! There are loads of new foods to discover during the summer in Japan, they are generally light and refreshing, but oh so ever delicious! Here's one you should try! It's a jelly noodle called tokoroten!

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What is Tokoroten?

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Amongst the summer desserts you should try is tokoreten. (Below, you can find a link to an article detailing summer sweets you should try in Japan!)

What is tokoroten though?

Tokoroten is a traditional Japanese dish of jelly noodles. It is made from agarophytes, a seaweed, and is a staple in Japanese cuisine for over a thousand years. It is made by boiling red algae until it becomes jelly.

Unlike gelatin, it isn't made of animal products so it can be eaten by vegetarians as well!
It can be eaten as a savoury dish, or in this case, as a dessert with kuromitsu (a kind of molass).

It's refreshing, tasty and healthy! Well there you have it!

Nutrition

Here's why you should eat tokoroten.

Tokoroten contains 2 cal per 100g so it is very diet friendly! It is said to contain 99% water, so it a great snack to have while on a diet. You are virtually slurping water noodles when you are eating your tokoroten jelly. However, unlike water, tokoroten contains some minerals and vitamins, such as iodine, molybdenum and some magnesium.

It is said to have these health benefits:
-Extremely low calories
-It is high in fiber and moves slowly through your body, helping you feel full longer AND it helps relieve constipation!
-It can refrain the absorption of sugar
-Decreases cholesterol
-Increases your metabolism level!

Yes, please!
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How To Make Tokoroten

The Basic Ingredient: Kanten

Tokoroten is surprisingly easy to make. One problem though, if you live overseas, is finding the ingredient called "kanten" to make it.
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This is what kanten looks like in the form of a stick, as it is often sold, in which case it is called "bo-kanten". In Japan they are sold at every super market. Overseas, you might be able to find them at a specialty store. Kanten is not to be confused with agar-agar, which is another type seaweed-derived jelly. Agar-agar connot be a substitue as the texture of the kanten-jelly is much more firm.

The Tokoroten Maker: Tentsuki

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To transform the hard tokoroten jelly into noodles, you'll need this traditional maker called tentsuki. In Japan, you can usually find them at stores that sell kitchen goods. They sell for as little as 200 yen for a basic plastic model. Overseas, you might have to order them online.

Recipe

If you've gathered those two then you can easily make tokoroten.

What you have to do is take one stick of kanten of 5 grams and soak it in water for 4 hours, until it has sucked up a lot of water.

Then, remove it from the water and crumble it in a pan and add 500 ml of water. Heat the water and stir constantly until the pieces are dissolved.

One that is done, pour the water into a square container. You need it to be square in order to cut pieces of the jelly into a shape that will easily fit into your tentsuki.

Refrigirate until it becomes firm.
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All you have to do next is cut a piece of the hard jelly, insert it in your tokoroten maker and press. This part is so satisfying!

To make it a dessert, just add some sweet syrup such as kuromitsu or molasses.You can top it with fruits and ice cream as well.

You can make it into a savoury dish too.
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Try it with a soy sauce based vinaigrette and topped with vegetables.

Where to Eat it?

In Japan, it can be found in supermarkets and in convenience stores, but also in Japanese-style coffee shops. So it the price can vary from very cheap to a little pricier in a nice cafe.
It is typically served with kuromitsu, but it can also be served with red bean paste, ice cream and fruits or with matcha.
Yokan img1 http://www.higashiya.com/en/
Here's an address we recommend for the real deal in Tokyo. The place is called Higashiya and is a beautiful Japanese sweets shop!
The shop offers small tables to enjoy a variety of Japanese sweets with tea. They also serve lunch!

For a more detailed list of summer sweets you should also try!

Lili Wanderlust
I love traveling and discovering new cuisines. Japan has a panoply of local dishes to try. I also love yoga, coffee, reading, and cycling.

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