Molecular Gastronomy : Agar, Agar

Agar, Agar (Often abbreviated Agar) is derived from red algae or seaweed.  Agar is a natural vegetable counterpart to gelatin which is animal based and completely vegetarian.  For vegetarians, it makes foods like marshmallows, jelly beans, and gummy bears possibleIt forms rigid, brittle gels.  White and semi-translucent, it is sold in packages as washed and dried strips or more commonly in powdered form.  It can be used to make jellies, puddings, custards, and aspics.

Agar is the primary ingredient in one of Asia’s new fad diets.  Kanten (The Japanese word for Agar, Agar) triples in size and absorbs water, thus you feel fuller.

Kanten Basic Diet

7 Ounces Water

2 Grams Kanten (Agar, Agar)

Fruit or Seasoning (Optional)

Bring water to a simmer and add kanten.  Simmer for 2 minutes stirring constantly.  Pour into a heat resistant container.  Add fruit or seasonings if desired.  Cool and allow to set.

Agar, Agar is genrally added to cool liquids and then heated to a boil.  The gel sets once it cools to 95° F and must be reheated to 185° before it melts again.

Agar, Agar uses and recipes:

Add to soup as a thickener.

Add to puddings and chill.

Balsamic Vinegar Gel

6.8 Ounces Balsamic Vinegar

2 Grams Agar Agar

Simple Syrup to taste

Bring vinegar to a boil and add Agar Agar.  Simmer for 2 minutes.  Season to taste with simple syrup.  Pour into container and allow to set.  Add jelly to a blender and blend until smooth.  Strain mixture through a chinois.  Pour into a squeeze bottle.  Refrigerate until needed.

Balsamic Vinegar Pearls

7 Ounces Balsamic Vinegar

1.5 Grams Agar Agar

1 Cup of Oil

place the oil in a tall glass in the freezer for at least 30 minutes.  put the balsamic vinegar in a saucepan, dissolve the agar agar and bring it to the boil, stirring constantly.  Take off heat.  Wait a few minutes until the temperature drops to 120-130˚ F.  Fill a syringe with the hot balsamic agar solution and expel it drop by drop into the cold oil.  Wait a few minutes and then carefully remove them from the oil bath using a slotted spoon and rinse them in water.  Serve on salads, etc.

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