Smooth, cool and noodle-like tokoroten is synonymous with Japan’s hot summer months; it has been popular at least as far back as the Muromachi period (1336-1573), and there is even mention of it in sixth-century records.
With a texture similar to firm jelly, tokoroten is traditionally made by boiling tengusa seaweed (red algae), and filtering and solidifying its broth. This solid is shaped into long noodles using a tool called the tentsuki. Tokoroten is primarily made up of water; the remaining one or two percent consists of a polysaccharide called galactan which, while low in calories and an excellent source of fiber, has little nutritional value.
Today, tokoroten may be made easily at home with kanten (agar-agar) rather than tengusa. Depending on the region, this refreshing dish can be dressed with nihaizu (soy sauce and vinegar) or sanbaizu (soy sauce, mirin and vinegar), green laver and Japanese mustard, or enjoyed with brown sugar syrup.
11 kcal Protein 0.1 g (per person)
- 4 g (.14 oz.) powdered kanten (agar-agar)
- 2 C water
- 4 T nihaizu (2 T soy sauce and 2 T vinegar)
- 2 t green laver
- Japanese mustard
- Put water and powdered kanten in a pan and bring to a boil, then reduce to low heat. Stir constantly for two minutes until melted.
- Moisten the inside of a mold with water; pour the kanten into the mold, then allow to set in a refrigerator.
Long noodles shaped by the tentsuki
- Serve tokoroten with nihaizu poured on top, garnished with laver and mustard.