Tokoroten Recipe, Video & what is Tokoroten exactly?

by Joost Nusselder | Updated on:  June 15, 2020

One of the major foundations of Japanese cuisine is seasonal eating, and summertime presents the perfect opportunity for people to enjoy revitalizing tokoroten jelly noodles.

What is tokoroten?

This is a special type of Japanese noodles, which has been in existence for over a millennium. These noodles are made from Kanten, gelatin found in tengusa, a native seaweed. Kanten is made out of 98% water, and its carb-free, low-calorie, as well as gluten-free, but it has high fiber content.

Bowl of tokoroten noodles

These nutritional facts make tokoroten very popular in japan because it makes them a healthy substitute for pasta or noodles.

It is believed that tokoroten first arrived in japan through china, during the Nara period.

However, these noodles were only for the aristocracy since the process of harvesting, extracting, and drying the gelatin from the tengusa seaweed was exhaustive.

However, this changed in 1658 after an innkeeper discovered that tokoroten noodles could dry and turn into kanten sheets, and that’s when he discovered the kanten gelatin.

These sheets could be kept for later use.

The discovery made it easier to make tokoroten because you could rely on kanten gelatin, which ended up becoming a popular snack during the summer.

Today, kanten, which is vegan-friendly has many uses in Japanese cuisine, from baking tokoroten noodles in the summertime to sweets referred to as wagashi.

Here is Yukodama on Youtube making Tokoroten with a specialized tool:

 

It’s an original Japanese Tokoroten Jelly cutter like this one on Amazon:

What differentiates tokoroten from other jellies?

You might have heard of the term “agar-agar,” which is an English synonym for various types of gelatins made out of seaweed.

However, this term refers to two different types of gelatin in japan—kanten and agar.

Image with a red seaweed field and a bowl of tokoroten

This is a text overlay image of the original work MGP0380天草 ところてん材料 seeweed for TOKOROTEN by Yuko Hara and ところてん seeweed jelly TOKOROTEN by Yuko Hara on Flickr under cc.

Read more: different types of Japanese noodles explained

Why should you eat tokoroten?

Tokoroten noodles are very healthy since they are almost calorie-free. You can eat this Japanese snack as a saturating agent.

Tokoroten are mostly prepared and chilled during the Japanese summer, and you can enjoy the noodles with different sauces.

Eating these noodles means that you will just be eating water, which will revitalize your body.

However, it is important to note that although these noodles contain 99% water, they are a bit more than that.

They come with vitamins and minerals, like molybdenum, iodine, as well as some magnesium.

Here are the health benefits of eating tokoroten

How do you make tokoroten?

You will need kanten—the basic ingredient if you want to make these Japanese noodles. These noodles are easy to make, but there is one challenge if you don’t live in japan—finding the kanten to make these noodles.

In Japan, kanten is easy to find as it is sold in almost every restaurant. However, if you live outside Japan, you will find it in special stores.

But, make sure that you don’t confuse kanten with agar-agar, which is another form of seaweed, which resembles jelly.

It is important to note that you can’t substitute Kanten with agar-agar since the kanten jelly has a much more firm texture.

In addition to the kanten, you will also need a tensuki, which will help you in making the tokoroten noodles.

This traditional tokoroten maker will assist you in changing the hard tokoroten jelly into noodles.

If you live in Japan, you can find the tensuki at any store that deals with kitchenware. It will cost you around 200 yen to get one of these devices.

However, if you live outside Japan, you will have to order one from different online stores.

Although I said that you shouldn’t substitute Kanten with agar-agar, you might have to do it in cases where you don’t have the kanten.

So, to make the tokoroten noodles, with need water, vinegar and agar-agar. You can buy it at your local supermarket, or order it online.

What do the tokoroten noodles taste like?

Tokoroten jelly doesn’t have any taste. In fact, the herbal jelly is nearly tasteless. Therefore, you will need a sauce to add some taste to the noodles.

Also read: these are great traditional Shichirin grills I’ve found online

Which sauces are ideal for tokoroten?

black sauce in a bottle

There are various sauces that you can use with the tokoroten noodles. Here are some recipes to these sauces:

Mild taste

You will need the following ingredients for this sauce:

Kuromitsu sauce

The kuromitsu sauce is sweet and salty, and you will need the following ingredients:

Get your quick start in enjoying Japanese cuisine here with our top recommended tools

Kanto sauce

This tokoroten sauce is a bit spiced, and you will need the following ingredients:

How to make Tokoroten Noodles yourself

In this recipe you'll learn how to make Tokoroten noodles from scratch
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Japanese
Keyword Noodles, Tokoroten
Prep Time 2 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Resting time 2 hours
Total Time 7 minutes
Servings 4 people
Author Joost Nusselder
Cost $5

Equipment

  • Cooking pot
  • Tensuki

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • 3 ounces kanten jelly (or agar if you can't find it)

Tokoroten kanto sauce

  • 2 tbs soy sauce
  • 2 tbs rice vinegar
  • 1/4 spring onion minced
  • 1 tsp mustard

Instructions

  • Boil the water and then add 1 tablespoon of vinegar
  • Next, you need to add the kanten jelly or agar-agar, and then stir well. You can cook it for two minutes
  • Remove it from the stove and allow it to cool. You can put it into a jar, and then place it in a fridge for around 2 hours. This mixture will become a jelly as it cools.
  • Now, you will need to use the tensuki to make the noodles. If you don’t have the tool, then you shouldn’t worry as you can cut the jelly into cubes.
  • To make the sauce, you need to mix the ingredients in a separate bowl.
  • Lastly, serve the noodles and then dip them into the sauce, or just mix the sauce with the noodles.

Bottom Line

This is unique and revitalizing summertime food, which is very healthy and refreshing too. Therefore, make sure that you try it out the next time you are in Japan.

Read more: delicious Monjayaki recipes

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.