One of the major foundations of Japanese cuisine is seasonal eating, and summertime presents the perfect of opportunity for people to enjoy the 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 seas weed. Kanten is made out of 98% water, and its carb-free, low-calorie, as well as gluten-free, but it has high fiber content.
These nutritional facts make tokoroten very popular I 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 discovered the kanten gelatin. These sheets could be kept for later use.
The discovery made it easier for to rely on kanten gelatin when making tokoroten, 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.
- Agar – this is a form of gelatin, made with different forms of red seaweed, and the gel has a wobbly texture, which resembles jelly, and has a softer mouthfeel. Agar is mostly used in making desserts like custard and pudding and soft jellies in japan.
- Kanten – this is a bit harder gelatin that is made from ogonori seaweed or tengusa, a type of red seaweed. Mostly, kanten is sold either as a solid block or powdered form, and it is used to make wagashi sweets like yokana (jellied-bean paste sweets) as well as tokoroten noodles.
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.
The noodles contain 2 calories per 100g, which makes them very healthy and diet-friendly. In addition, they contain 99% water, which makes then an amazing snack to eat if you are on a diet. Taking these noodles means that you will be just taking water, which will revitalize your body.
However, it is important to note that although these noodles contain 99% water, they are a bit different. They have come vitamins and minerals, like molybdenum, iodine, as well as some magnesium.
Here are the health benefits of eating tokoroten
- It has an extremely low-calorie count
- It has high fiber content, thus it moves slowly through your digestion system, assisting you to remain feeling full for a longer period. Also, it assists in relieving constipation.
- It can prevent sugar from being absorbed in your body
- Helps in reducing cholesterol levels in your body
- Assists in increasing your body’s metabolism levels
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 at 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 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 we 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 from www.amazon.com.
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.
Which sauces are ideal for tokoroten?
There are various sauces that you can use with the tokoroten noodles. Here are some recipes to these sauces:
You will need the following ingredients for this sauce:
- Rice vinegar – 1 tbs
- Soy sauce – 1 tbs
- Sugar – 1 tbs
The kuromitsu sauce is sweet and salty, and you will need the following ingredients:
- Brown sugar – 1 tbs (heap full)
- White sugar – 1 tbs (level full)
- Water – 2tbs
This tokoroten sauce is a bit spiced, and you will need the following ingredients:
- Soy sauce – 2 tbs
- Rice vinegar – 2 tbs
- Spring onion (minced) – ¼
- Mustard – 1 tsp
Tokoroten preparation method
- Boil the water and then add 1 tablespoon of vinegar
- Next, you need to add the 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.
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