Kanten in stick, string and powder forms
Kanten, or agar-agar, is similar to gelatin but possesses a different texture. Kanten is often used in making wagashi traditional Japanese confectionery. It is produced by boiling and straining tengusa seaweed and other algae, and forming it in an oblong mold to make tokoroten, which is eaten with either a sweet or savory sauce. When tokoroten is freeze-dried, it becomes kanten. Kanten typically comes in stick, string and powder forms. It melts in hot water and hardens again when cooled, remaining set even at room temperature. Unlike gelatin, kanten is vegan. It is also rich in dietary fiber and virtually calorie-free. One popular kanten wagashi is yokan, which consists of an—sweet adzuki bean paste—mixed with kanten. Other kanten desserts include the classic anmitsu, where white translucent cubes of kanten are served in a bowl with an, fruit and brown sugar syrup. Healthy kanten is also used in a wide array of dishes besides confectionery.